State Legislative Tracker: Six states have held primaries

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May 14, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka

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This week's tracker features a sessions update and look at recall efforts in Louisiana and Wisconsin.


This week 17 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. North Carolina is scheduled to convene this week, while Alabama is expected to adjourn.

Twenty-seven 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 May 14, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

The following states convened their regular legislative sessions:

The following states have ended their regular session:

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

The Kansas State Legislature was scheduled to adjourn today but, due to infighting among Republicans, the session had to be extended. Major issues which remain unresolved include education funding, state employee pension reform, redistricting and the budget. Gov. Sam Brownback (R) stated, “I think it’s reasonable for people to say they should have gotten things done in 90 days. My hope is that they wrap it up here pretty soon.”[1]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, May 14, 2012
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,303 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,968 (53.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 36
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 58
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 5
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 25
Total Special Sessions 11

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 11 special sessions in 8 states. Two are ongoing.


Colorado began a special session today to deal with the issue of civil unions as well as other unresolved issues that Republican House leaders stopped action on. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) called the session, stating, “Transparency, accountability and the virtues of good government are compromised when the legislative clock is used to avoid consideration of important legislation. We owe it to the people we serve to do better.”[2]


Gov. Martin O'Malley announced on May 4 that he would call state legislators back into session on May 14 to deal with lingering budget issues.[3] The session opened today with protests by GOP lawmakers, calling O'Malley a liar and vowing to fight a Democratic plan to raise income taxes and move part of the cost of teacher pensions to the counties.[4]

Criticism of the effort to raise taxes has not been just a partisan matter - this morning State Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) sent a letter to the press calling the plan “simply the wrong approach at the wrong time.”[5]

In recess

As of today, May 14, 3 states' sessions are currently in recess:

State news


On May 10, the Alaska Supreme Court rejected the Alaska Redistricting Board's revised redistricting map. A previous version of the map had already been struck down by the court. Although the ruling reiterated the need to more closely adhere to the Alaska Constitution, it also gave more specific instructions regarding the map. The court ordered the Board to redraw House Districts 31 through 34 and Senate Districts P and Q. The court had previously instructed the Board to make Voting Rights Act adjustments only after the state constitutional requirements were satisfied. However, the court has now instructed board not to make VRA adjustments since, according to the court, the Act does not justify diverging from the state constitution for the districts in question. The Board has until May 15 to revise the plans. Objections must be filed by May 18.[7]

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 135 out of 142 (95.1%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: AL (2), KS (1), ME (2), MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 42/43 (Maps unfinished: KS)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 45/50 (Maps unfinished: AL, KS, ME, MS, MT)
**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)


A redistricting trial began last week in Arkansas. A panel of three federal judges dismissed Secretary of State Mark Martin (R) from the suit, which was filed regarding an eastern Arkansas State Senate district.[8] The court ruled it will not delay the May 22 primary as it considers the case.[9]


On May 10, the Kansas House of Representatives approved a Senate redistricting map. The move is part of an ongoing feud between moderate Republicans in the Senate and conservatives in the House. Ordinarily, each chamber draws its own chamber maps. The competing House plan challenges this tradition.[10]

Kansas law requires legislators to complete redistricting during the regular session--which is limited to 90 days. The 90 day limit has passed and a lawsuit has been filed, but it's unclear when or if the courts will intervene.[11]

New Hampshire

Five lawsuits filed against the approved House districts have been consolidated into one case and have been sent to the state Supreme Court. Separate cases were filed by the cities of Concord and Manchester, the town of Gilford, a group of Democrats and a group of House Republicans.[12]

According to lawsuits, the new House districts denied certain towns and wards their own representatives even though they deserved them by law. Gov. John Lynch (D) used similar arguments when he vetoed the bill, but the Republican majority in the legislature overrode the veto.[12]

See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012
2012 badge.jpg

A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,272 (64.5%) of the country's 1,971 state senate seats are up for election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country's 5,413 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 5,984 (81.04%) of the country's 7,384 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 5,984 seats up for election is 141 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

Two states - Michigan and Washington - have signature filing deadlines this week.

So far, deadlines have passed in 26 states:

States with upcoming deadlines:


See also: 2012 election dates

State legislative primaries taking place this week:

So far, primaries have taken place in six states:

A total of 18 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary.

States with upcoming primaries:

Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the date was moved to May 29.
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, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there are currently 4 scheduled state legislative recalls.


Last week recall paperwork was filed against Republican state Reps. Kevin Pearson and Greg Cromer, both of whom are considered allies to Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). A petition drive was launched in March against Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley for his support of Jindal's proposed changes to the education system. In order for a recall election to be scheduled, organizers have to collect signatures from one-third of the registered voters in each district within 180 days.[13]


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 last month organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts.[14] The Caswell campaign remains active.

Proposed recall petition language was submitted in April targeting Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R). The man behind the move is Jeff Andring, a fellow Republican and former chairman of the Monroe County Republican Party. The language says Richardville should be recalled for cosponsoring legislation that benefited the brother of the state GOP chair, supporting a right-to-work law only affecting public school teacher unions, and supporting a proposed bridge to Canada.[15]

The language was recently rejected in a 3-0 vote by officials in Monroe County because it was unclear. Andring has the option to appeal the decision or to reword the petition.[16]


See also: Timeline of events of the recall of Wisconsin State Senators in 2012

Recalls are scheduled against four state senators. The primary took place on May 8 with general elections on June 5.[17]

Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senators - Pam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard.[18] Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012.

The Republican Party ran protest candidates (Republicans who ran as Democrats) in each of the primaries in order to ensure all recalls would take place on the same date. The "fake" candidates were all defeated, taking between 27.9 and 35.8 percent.

Matchups for the June 5 recalls are as follows:

District 13 - Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R) faces Democrat Lori Compas, an organizer of the recall, and Libertarian Terry Virgil.
District 21 - Sen. Van Wanggaard (R) faces former state Sen. John Lehman (D).
District 23 - Sen. Terry Moulton (R) faces former Democratic state legislator Kristen Dexter.
District 29 - Sen. Pam Galloway (R)

Galloway resigned, but the recall against her continues as scheduled. State Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R) is running in her place and will face Democratic state Rep. Donna Seidel.

Meanwhile, a recall targeting Sen. Bob Jauch (D) was launched on March 19, 2012. Supporters of the recall needed to collect 15,270 valid signatures by May 18 in order to force a recall election, but they suspended the recall a week before the deadline.[19][20]

On Friday, a Hayward affiliate of the Citizens for Responsible Government announced they would be suspending the recall drive, stating "the group intends to focus its resources to retain Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch in the upcoming recall elections."[21]

The group promised more information about the future of the recall following the recall elections on June 5, 2012.[21]

See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • July 17: South Carolina Senate District 41
  • July 24: South Carolina House District 68
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 16
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 26
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 68

See also


  1. Kansas City Star, "Republican infighting forces Kansas Legislature to extend session," May 12, 2012 (Archived)
  2. Pueblo Chieftain, "Civil Union supporters rally prior to special session," May 14, 2012
  3. Maryland Reporter, "State Roundup, May 7," May 7, 2012
  4. Baltimore Sun, "GOP opens session with roar of protest," May 14, 2012
  5. Washington Post, "Maryland comptroller Peter Franchot calls special session ‘wrong’," May 14, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 StateScape, Session schedules," accessed May 14, 2012
  7. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "High court sends Alaska redistricting plan back for work," May 11, 2012
  8. ‘’Today’s THV “Judges toss Mark Martin from part of redistricting suit,” May 9, 2012
  9. ‘’The Republic “Federal judges won't halt east Ark. Senate primary as they weigh redistricting suit,” May 11, 2012
  10. Real Clear Politics, "Kansas House approves new map for state Senate," May 11, 2012
  11. Topeka Capital-Journal, "Redistricting process enters 'uncharted territory'," May 13, 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 Concord Monitor, "Redistricting headed to High Court," May 12, 2012
  13. The Advocate, "Recalls target two Jindal ally legislators," May 11, 2012
  14. The Times Herald, "State Sen. Phil Pavlov recall fails," April 13, 2012
  15. MLive, "Sen. Randy Richardville is recall target of fellow Republican," April 18, 2012
  16. Toledo Blade, "Monroe County panel rejects recall petition against Richardville," May 2, 2012
  17. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall votes set for May 8 and June 5," March 14, 2012
  18. FOX 6 Now, "Recall paperwork filed Tuesday for four senators, including Van Wanggaard," November 15, 2011
  19. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Recall Bob Jauch Committee," accessed March 20, 2012
  20. Ashland Current, "Jauch Calls Recall Group Disreputable," May 11, 2012
  21. 21.0 21.1 Ashland Current, "Jauch Recall Suspended, Announcement Says," May 11, 2012