State Legislative Tracker: Candidate filing deadlines have passed in all states

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July 16, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features a look at signature filing deadlines for candidates wishing to run in 2012 legislative races, which have now passed in all states.

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Weekly highlight

Candidates for the New York State Legislature had until last Thursday to file to be on the September 13 primary ballot. With the passing of that deadline, major party candidates have now filed in all states and it is worth while looking at requirements and deadlines across the country, which are not created equal. This year 44 states will hold state legislative elections. While each state holds a primary, the amount of time between the signature filing deadline and the primary differs widely from 60 days in North Dakota all the way to 158 days in Connecticut. What this essentially means is that candidates in Connecticut have 98 days more days to campaign than those in North Dakota.

  • 10 states have between 60-69 days. These account for 1,468 seats.
  • 8 states with 70-79 days. These account for 1,082 seats.
  • 15 states with 80-89 days. These account for 1,927 seats.
  • 11 states with 90 or more days. These account for 1,502 seats.

Another major factor is what it takes to get on to the ballot. First, there are filing fees. Some states, such as Tennessee and Vermont, do not require filing fees, while in others it shoots way up. In Arkansas, for example, individual parties set the filing fees - Democrats must pay $4,500 (Senate) and $3,000 (House) while Republicans must pay $7,500 (Senate) and $3,000 (House). Another factor is the number of signatures necessary. Again, some states, including Montana and Nebraska, do not require any signatures, only fees. At the other end of the spectrum is Illinois, where major party candidates must obtain 1,000 (Senate) and 500 (House) signatures. New party and independent candidates must obtain 3,000 (Senate) and 1,500 (House) signatures.

The one thing all states have in common is candidates willing to jump through all of the required hoops in the hope of making it through to the general election and then on to the state house.


This week 2 out of 50 state legislatures - Ohio and Massachusetts - are meeting in regular session. 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 July 16, 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, July 16, 2012
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,308 (44.8%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,962 (53.7%)
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 27
Total Special Sessions 15

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 15 special sessions in 13 states. There are no special sessions currently ongoing.


After meeting with legislative leaders last Wednesday, Governor Mark Dayton (D) announced there will be a special session to address flood relief. Tentatively scheduled for late August, a date has not yet been scheduled as state and local officials are waiting to hear how much the federal government will cover.[1]

The special session may also address previous disasters, such as the Verso Paper Mill, which was destroyed by a fire in May, and the 2010 tornado that damaged public facilities in Wadena. Dayton has made it clear from the beginning, however, that he only wants the session to address disaster relief, something the legislature has historically come together on. That hasn't stopped some from trying to interject divisive, partisan issues into the session.[2]

In recess

As of today, July 16, 7 state's sessions are currently in recess:

  • California - In recess from July 8, 2012 to August 5, 2012.[3]
  • Illinois - In recess until January 7, 2013.[3]
  • New Jersey - In recess from July 3, 2012 to September 13, 2012.
  • New York - In recess from June 22, 2012 to January 7, 2013.[3]
  • Michigan - In recess from June 17 to July 17, 2012.
  • Pennsylvania - In recess from July 3, 2012 to September 23, 2012.[3]
  • Wisconsin - In recess from March 17 to December 31, 2012.[3]
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 no state legislative primaries taking place this week.

So far, primaries have taken place in 24 states:

A total of 75 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary - 53 Republicans and 22 Democrats.

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).[4]


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.[5] 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.[6]


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

Recalls against four Republican state senators took place on June 5.[7] Going into the recalls the Senate was tied, meaning if the Democrats could win one of the recalls they would take control of the chamber.[8]

Incumbents Scott Fitzgerald (R) and Terry Moulton (R) won easy victories. Republican Jerry Petrowski easily won Pam Galloway's (R) former seat. Unofficial results showed John Lehman (D) defeated Van Wanggaard (R) by 779 votes and he declared victory. With the official canvass showing Lehman winning by 834 votes, Wanggaard called for a recount on June 15.[9]

The recount began on June 20 and concluded July 2.[10] Final tallies released show Lehman won by 819 votes - 36,358 to 35,539.[11] Wanggaard was looking at possible legal challenges but ultimately conceded the race on July 10.

Wanggaard stated, "Despite pleas from around the state to challenge the election, it is not in the best interests of Racine, or Wisconsin, at this time. Now is the time to focus on gaining the state senate back in November, winning Wisconsin's U.S. Senate seat and electing Gov. (Mitt) Romney as president."[12]

Democrats will officially take control of the Senate tomorrow. Republicans note, however, that with sixteen of the chamber's seats up for election in November, the victory could be short lived.[13]

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

So far in 2012 there have been 27 special elections in 11 states.

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

South Carolina Senate District 41

Glenn McConnell (R) succeeded to the office of Lieutenant Governor after Ken Ard resigned the post amid a campaign spending scandal. A special election to fill his seat has been called for July 17. A special Republican primary was held on May 29.[14][15]

Democratic Party Democratic Primary Candidates:
Republican Party Republican Primary Candidates:
  • Wally Burbage
  • Walter Hundley Approveda
  • Sean Pike
  • John Steinberger

General election candidates:

Republican Party Walter Hundley
Democratic Party Paul Tinkler
Green Party Sue Edward

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • July 17: South Carolina Senate District 41
  • July 24: South Carolina House District 68
  • August 7: Pennsylvania Senate District 40
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 16
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 26
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 68

See also