The Executive Summary: A real-life Shawshank Redemption "cash with the pie" incident
Edited by Maresa Strano
This jam-packed edition of The Executive Summary features the story of the third lieutenant governor to resign this year, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, and the constitutional peculiarities brought up by the imminent vacancy. We review the latest 2013-2014 election news, including the results of the recent GOP primary convention in Virginia and how the prospect of a tough re-election campaign in 2014 contributed to Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee's decision to switch his party affiliation from Independent to Democratic today.
Meanwhile, a statewide official in Arkansas resigned office after she was arrested for receiving cash kickbacks -- rolled up in a pie box. To top it all off, you'll find updates on a number of state executive office changes from across the country. It's a crowded day, let's get started!
Massachusetts lieutenant governor announces resignation
Tim Murray (D), who has served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts since 2007, announced on May 22 that he will resign his position effective June 2 in order to lead the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. While Murray has been the subject of controversies, he said his decision had nothing to do with them, calling the move "a right fit and a right decision."
Murray's departure makes him the first Massachusetts lieutenant governor to resign mid-term since John Kerry in 1985 and the third lieutenant governor across the nation to resign this year. Rick Sheehy (R) left his post in Nebraska in February and Jennifer Carroll (R) resigned her position in Florida the following month. Both cases involved scandals.
Murray had been expected by many to seek the governor's seat after Deval Patrick (D) leaves office in 2015. However, Murray put those rumors to rest earlier this year. His political troubles began in November 2011 with an automobile accident involving a state vehicle and questions surrounding his ties to an ex-housing director who resigned after it became known that he was making $360,000 - well over the $160,000 salary he had reported on state filings.
As the Massachusetts Constitution does not provide a way to fill a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor, the post will remain vacant until a new officeholder is elected on November 4, 2014. The situation previously occurred in 2001 when then-Gov. Paul Cellucci resigned and Lt. Gov. Jane Swift took over as governor, leaving the position empty. In the event that Deval Patrick (D) leaves office, Secretary of State William Galvin would serve as acting governor.
As lieutenant governor, Murray served as a liaison to local officials, as well as focusing on veterans affairs, transportation, and economic development issues. In his new role at the chamber of commerce he will be making over $200,000, a jump from his current salary of $124,920.Cite error: Invalid
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Lincoln Chafee's return to a (different) major party
When Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee was sworn in on January 4, 2011, he became America's only sitting governor not to belong to one of the two major parties. He held that distinction until May 30, 2013, at which time he switched his party affiliation from Independent to Democrat.
A variety of factors contributed to Chafee's decision to become a Democrat, including his consistent support for President Obama and his trepidation in approaching 2014 re-election without the backing of a major-party or the majority of Rhode Island voters, according to polls showing the governor with basement-level job approval leading up to the switch.
Chafee endorsed his former Senate colleague Obama for President in 2008 and 2012, but the main reason he cited for changing to a major party affiliation was the need to finance a competitive re-election campaign. "There is no independent governors association throwing money around ... but there is a Democratic Governors Association," he told The Associated Press back in Dec. 2012. Reaffirming his concerns, reports from The Washington Post and other political analysts have continuously rated Chafee in the top five governors considered vulnerable to losing re-election.
Despite being a blue-state, Chafee's party switch marks the first time since 1995 that Rhode Island has had a Democratic governor.
Previously affiliated with the Republican Party, Chafee became an Independent soon after losing his U.S. Senate seat to Sheldon Whitehouse (D) in the 2006 general election. Chafee's latest switch elicited enthusiastic welcomes from Democratic leaders nationwide, including President Obama and Democratic Governor's Association president Peter Shumlin of Vermont. The move gives the Democratic Party control over 20 governor seats while the Republicans still hold 30 seats.
Additionally, Chafee's switch makes the state of Rhode Island a trifecta -- single-party control of the governorship and state legislature. Rhode Island becomes the 13th Democratic trifecta in the country. There are currently 24 Republican trifectas.
Arkansas Treasurer resigns after FBI arrest
On May 18, 2013, former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Ann Shoffner was arrested in her home by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of attempt and conspiracy to commit "extortion under color of official right" under the Hobbs Act. The arrest was made without a formal indictment and arose from an investigation into Shoffner's handling of state investments in her capacity as treasurer, as well as allegations she had broken state election laws governing campaign contributions. The federal investigation revealed that she had accepted $12,000 in cash payments from a broker who eventually managed a vast portion of the state's $3.3 billion investment portfolio. An affidavit filed the Monday following her arrest has Shoffner confirming it was wrong to accept the money, which was sometimes rolled up and hidden in a pie box -- with the pie included. At the federal court hearing, held that Monday, Shoffner declined to enter a plea, and was released from Pulaski County Jail "on her own recognizance." However, her attorney indicated that Shoffner planned to plea not guilty at a later date. News of Shoffner's charge and arrest led many state officials, including Gov. Mike Beebe, attorney general Dustin McDaniel and state Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb, to call for her to step down. Shoffner subsequently tendered her resignation to the governor, effective May 21, 2013. In the letter to Beebe, Shoffner wrote, "I am proud to have been elected by and to have served the people of the state of Arkansas and regret that I can no longer perform the duties and responsibilities owed to the public."
Federal authorities launched the criminal probe into Shoffner's office and campaign finances after legislative auditors uncovered that in 2011, the first year of her second term, Shoffner's office had cost the state nearly $60,000, among other suspicious statistics that pointed to possible misconduct. The audit determined that under her leadership, the office had "blocked the state from earning more than $400,000" by improperly handling the sale and investment of state bonds. After the unflattering audit report, Shoffner told the press, "I know the buck stops with me and I'm going to have to take responsibility and I want to take responsibility...I just don't want this to happen again in the future."
Nebraska AG guilty of campaign finance violations
Jon Bruning (R), the Attorney General of Nebraska, has agreed to pay a $19,000 civil penalty for campaign finance violations during his 2012 campaign for the U.S. Senate. In question was an email Bruning sent on November 30, 2010 seeking donations that said, "Please help me defeat Ben Nelson in 2012 by making a contribution today. Together we can take back this country and bring true Nebraska values to Washington."
The Federal Election Commission said that this showed Bruning "had decided to be a candidate for federal office" at a date earlier than reflected in his filings, making his filings late. He was found to have failed to file a statement of candidacy in a timely manner as well as a statement of organization, the 2010 year-end report, and the financial activity of the Jon Bruning Exploratory Committee.
- See also: State executive official elections, 2013
|State Executive Official Elections Results in 2013|
|Office||Incumbent||Incumbent Party||Incumbent Running?||2013 Winner||Partisan switch?|
|Governor of New Jersey||Chris Christie||Republican||Yes||Pending|
|Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey||Kim Guadagno||Republican||Yes||Pending|
|Governor of Virginia||Bob McDonnell||Republican||No||Pending|
|Lieutenant Governor of Virginia||Bill Bolling||Republican||No||Pending|
|Attorney General of Virginia||Ken Cuccinelli||Republican||No (running for governor)||Pending|
|Superintendent of Wisconsin||Tony Evers||Nonpartisan||Yes||Tony Evers||No|
|Mark your calendar|
|June 4||New Jersey primary election|
|June 11||Virginia Democratic primary election|
|November 5||General election in New Jersey and Virginia|
There are three states holding state executive official elections in 2013 -- New Jersey, Virginia and Wisconsin. A total of six officials will be elected. The attention-grabbing positions up for election are Governor of New Jersey and Governor of Virginia. Both made The Washington Post's list of the top five races to watch in 2013.
The first state executive election in 2013 took place in Wisconsin on April 2, 2013. Incumbent Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers won re-election to a second term against challenger Don Pridemore. Evers, a career educator, handily defeated Don Pridemore, a Wisconsin State Assemblyman since 2005. Although the Superintendent of Public Instruction is a nonpartisan position, Evers is a Democrat and Pridemore is a Republican.
The race attracted considerable buzz in the lead-up to the election, owing in large part to the controversial education proposals put forth by Gov. Scott Walker (R) in his 2013-2015 budget plan, as well as Pridemore's penchant for provoking the media - with dramatic pronouncements about his campaign agenda or else by creating a blacklist of a number of "liberal" political reporters.
Evers received over 61% of the vote, equalling 487,030 votes. This figure points to Evers' growth in popularity since his initial election to the post back in 2009, when he won 439,248 votes and a roughly 15 percentage point victory over a different single challenger, Rose Fernandez.
|Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction General Election, 2013|
|Nonpartisan||Tony Evers Incumbent||61.1%||487,030|
|Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (dead link).|
The Republican Party of Virginia held a closed primary convention this past weekend to nominate its candidates for the three state executive offices up for election this year: governor, lt. governor and attorney general. All three positions are occupied by Republicans, and none are seeking re-election to their current posts. Term-limited Governor Bob McDonnell cannot run, and incumbent state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli is hoping to take over for him as Virginia's chief executive officer.
At the convention, Cuccinelli, a leader whose conservative stances on federal health care reform, climate change and abortion have made him popular with conservative activists, confirmed his virtually guaranteed place on the 2013 general election ballot, having been the only member of his party to file for governor. By contrast, the lieutenant governor and attorney general primary fields both drew primary contests. Seven candidates filed for retiring Lt. Gov Bill Bolling's seat, while two entered the race to replace Cuccinelli as attorney general. On May 17-18, delegates voted to advance E.W. Jackson for lt. governor, and Mark Obenshain for attorney general.
Jackson's win Saturday marked the first time since Maurice Dawkins' nomination a quarter of a century ago that Virginia Republicans nominated an African-American for statewide office. A minister at a non-denominational church and relatively new member of the Republican Party, Jackson edged out six opponents by emphasizing his commitment to hallmark conservative issues such as smaller government, Second Amendment rights and traditional family values. He appealed to the delegation with the promise, "We will not only win an election in November, we will open the hearts and minds of our people and save this commonwealth and save this country."
State Sen. Mark Obenshain defeated state Rep. Rob Bell, a fellow "strong fiscal and social conservative", for the party's nomination for attorney general. Obenshain's late father, GOP politician Richard Obenshain, died in a plane crash during his 1978 campaign for U.S. Senate. Known for his work on voter-ID laws in the Virginia Senate, Obenshain's attorney general platform has so far highlighted other popular Republican causes like combating "federal overreach," namely the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as well as coordinating with the state legislature on stricter law enforcement policies targeting drug and sex criminals.
The Democratic candidates for governor, lt. governor and attorney general will compete in the taxpayer-funded primary election on June 11, 2013. The winners will square off against the Republican convention nominees in the general election taking place November 5, 2013.
On March 28, the signature filing window came to a close for Democratic primary candidates seeking their party's nomination for governor, lt. governor, and attorney general. Democratic primary candidates will compete in the taxpayer funded primary election on June 11. The winners will face the Republican nominees chosen by party delegates at the closed primary convention May 18. The following list of candidates for the Democratic primary election is official as of March 28, 2013:
- Recent polls
|Governor of Virginia: Cuccinelli v. McAuliffe|
|Poll||Terry McAuliffe (D)||Ken Cuccinelli (R)||Undecided||Margin of Error||Sample Size|
(Feb. 14-18, 2013)
|Roanoke College Poll|
(April 8-14, 2013)
|Washington Post (Registered Voters)|
(April 29-May 2, 2013)
|Washington Post (Likely Voters)|
(April 29-May 2, 2013)
|NBC News/Marist Poll|
(April 28-May 2, 2013)
|Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to|
In November 2012, the New Jersey gubernatorial election was rated by the Washington Post as one of the top five races to watch in 2013. Christie's high-wattage presence notwithstanding, the contest never rose to the level of excitement originally anticipated. This was due in part to the decision of former Newark Mayor Cory Booker to run for U.S. Senate rather than attempt to oust Christie in 2013. Booker had long been considered the Democratic front-runner and best hope to take on the juggernaut incumbent, until announcing his — ultimately successful — Senate bid, and leaving comparatively unknown Democrats on their own to face Christie, whose upward career trajectory and bipartisan appeal made him a formidable opponent in the election.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono each faced a single challenger in the primary election on June 4, although neither presented a substantial challenge at the polls; Christie and Buono won their respective party nominations with roughly 90 percent of the vote.
Former Atlantic City Councilman Seth Grossman was the sole Republican to brave a run against the popular first-term governor, whose profile rose following the response to Hurricane Sandy. Grossman's campaign criticized Christie for being overly moderate, while Buono's opponent Troy Webster, advisor to the mayor of East Orange, believed he was uniquely suited to making New Jersey friendlier to "the working poor and middle class families who have been literally 'thrown under the bus.'" Grossman and Webster were endorsed by the weekly publication NJ Today.
Selection of running mates
In New Jersey, gubernatorial candidates have 30 days to select a lieutenant gubernatorial running mate with whom to share their ticket in the general election. Immediately after launching his re-election campaign, Christie secured his running mate, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Buono, meanwhile, waited until July 29 to formally announce her choice of union leader Milly Silva, the executive vice president of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, as her running mate. The two-woman ticket went up against incumbent pairing Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno in addition to a number of third-party opponents in the general election contest that took place on November 5, 2013.
Christie was heavily favored to win re-election, with his campaign raising nearly double that of Buono's in the primary and maintaining a decisive double-digit advantage in the polls throughout the election season. In the final week before the general election, Christie boasted a staggering 24.3-point average polling lead. He also had bipartisan support, which was crucial in a state where Democrats outnumbered Republicans by over 700,000, according to party registration statistics provided by the New Jersey Department of State.
Since 1977, New Jersey gubernatorial primary and general election candidates can qualify for a public funding program whereby candidates who raise a minimum amount of money are dispensed tax-generated funds, controlled by the state election law enforcement commission, in direct proportion to campaign donations given from the public. In 2013, the qualifying sum for primary gubernatorial candidates was $380,000. The purpose of the program is to lessen the influence of corporate contributions in elections. On February 2, 2013, then-presumptive Democratic nominee Barbara Buono's campaign reported that it had surpassed the $380,000 mark. By that time, Christie's campaign had already raised $2 million. Unlike in 2009, Christie declined to use matching funds in the 2013 primary, but he decided in August to opt in to the program for the general election phase. Under the program, Christie became eligible for an additional $8 million, approximately. The terms also required him to participate in two debates with Buono before the general election.
The following list of candidates is official as of the April 1, 2013 primary candidate filing deadline.
Texas Insurance Commissioner forced out, new officer appointed
The appointment of Julia Rathgeber as the new Texas Commissioner of Insurance went into effect on May 27, 2013. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Rathgeber to the statewide post to replace former commissioner Eleanor Kitzman, who had served in the role since August of 2011.
Gov. Perry declined to reappoint Kitzman as commissioner upon the expiration of her term in Feb. 2013 and was she was subsequently unable to secure the two-thirds Senate confirmation vote during the 2013 session necessary to remain in office. Kitzman's departure from office did not come as a surprise due to her lack of popularity in the Senate; the chamber's Democrats had been especially unhappy with Kitzman for failing to question homeowners' policy rate increases by the state's largest property insurers. As Senate Nominations Committee Chairman Glenn Hegar (R) had correctly predicted earlier this month, "The vote would be close, but it does not appear she would have the votes in the nominations committee, much less the full Senate. The opposition is bipartisan."
Prior to assuming the role as chief executive and administrative officer of the state department of insurance, Rathgeber was the deputy chief of staff for Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R). The commissioner's office consists of the Insurance and HMOs Division, the State Fire Marshall, and the Division of Workers' Compensation
New North Dakota Labor Commissioner
On May 16, 2013, Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) appointed Bonnie Storbakken as the new North Dakota Commissioner of Labor. Storbakken officially assumed office on May 27, replacing Tony Weiler, who left in order to take over as executive director of the State Bar Association of North Dakota. Weiler served in the position since 2010.
- See also: State executive official elections, 2014
Ballotpedia has counted and is currently tracking a total of 214 state executive positions in 42 states that will be on the ballot next year. That is more than double the number of positions that were elected in 2012, when 94 positions were elected. The eight states that are not holding executive official elections in 2014 are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
The offices up for election include:
- 36 governors
- 30 lieutenant governors
- 30 attorneys general
- 26 secretaries of state
- 25 treasurers
- 16 auditors
- 13 public service commissioners
- 9 controllers/comptrollers
- 8 superintendents of schools
- 7 agriculture commissioners
- 4 insurance commissioners
- 3 education commissioners
- 2 labor commissioners
- 1 adjutant general
- 1 mine inspector
- 1 natural resource commissioner
- 1 railroad commissioner
- 1 tax commissioner
Recent notable candidates
- On May 28, former Democratic U.S. Rep Mark Schauer formally announced his candidacy for Governor of Michigan. The early Democratic front-runner hopes to unseat first term GOP incumbent Rick Snyder in the 2014 general election.
- Last week, two "like-minded" Republicans announced bids to challenge Democratic incumbent Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper for re-election in 2014. Ex-Mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island and 2006 GOP primary candidate for U.S. Senate Steve Laffey and former Republican U.S. Rep Tom Tancredo. Laffey promptly withdrew in response to Tancredo's entrance into the race in hopes of sparing the Republican Party an ugly primary battle which could hurt its chances of reclaiming the seat in the general election.
Answer: North Dakota holds statewide elections for 13 state executive positions, the most of any state.
Under Article V, Section II:
The qualified electors of the state at the times and places of choosing members of the legislative assembly shall choose a governor, lieutenant governor, agriculture commissioner, attorney general, auditor, insurance commissioner, three public service commissioners, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, tax commissioner, and treasurer..."
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- THV11.com, "Update: Ark. treasurer accused of taking cash from broker," May 20, 2013
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- THV11.com, "Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner has been arrested for extortion by the F.B.I. and is being held in Pulaski County Jail," May 20, 2013
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- PolitickerNJ, "Christie and Buono wrap yawner primary season," June 4, 2013
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- Dallas Morning News, "Governor appoints new insurance commissioner," May 27, 2013
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- Texas Department of Insurance, accessed November 7, 2011
- North Dakota Office of the Governor, "Press Release: Dalrymple Appoints Storbakken Commissioner of Labor," May 16, 2013
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