State Legislative Tracker: One week to go until Wisconsin recall primaries

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April 30, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka

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This week's tracker features an update on the partisan count and a preview of the recall primaries taking place next week in Wisconsin.


As of today, April 30, 2012, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and 49 state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 53.7% of all seats while Democrats hold 44.7%. All told, Republicans control 58 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 36 chambers. Four chambers are tied, while one is nonpartisan.

The totals represent a gain of 2 Democratic and 3 Republican legislators from the April 9 Tracker.

Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,303 44.7%
Republican state legislators 3,968 53.7%
Independent state legislators 71 0.96%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 11 0.15%
Vacancies 26 0.35%

State Houses

The partisan composition of state houses refers to which party holds the majority of seats in the state house or the lower level of each state legislature. Altogether, in the 49 state houses, there are 5,413 state representatives.

As of April 30, 2012, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 18 chambers
  • Republican Party 30 chambers
  • Purple.png 1 chamber (Oregon)
See also: Partisan composition of state senates

Cumulative numbers

As of April 30, 2012, 5,364 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,429 44.9%
Republican state representatives 2,935 54.2%
Independent state representatives 18 0.33%
Third party (and non-voting) representatives 9 0.17%
Vacancies 16 0.29%


There are 16 state house vacancies in 12 different states as of April 30, 2012. They are as follows:

State Vacancies
Florida 1
Georgia 1
Hawaii 1
Illinois 2
Kentucky 1
Maine 1
New Hampshire 2
Oklahoma 2
Pennsylvania 1
South Carolina 1
Utah 2
Vermont 1


There are 27 state representatives in 13 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of April 30, 2012. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 2 (Independent)
Maine 3 (2 non-voting Native American representatives, 1 Independent)
Missouri 4 (Independent)
New Hampshire 2 (Independent)
New Mexico 1 (Independent)
New York 1 (Independence Party of New York)
North Carolina 1 (Independent)
South Dakota 1 (Independent)
Tennessee 1 (Carter County Republican)
Vermont 8 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 3 Independent)
Virginia 1 (Independent)
Wisconsin 1 (Independent)

State Senates

The partisan composition of state senates refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state senate. Altogether, in the 50 state senates, there are 1,971 state senators.

As of April 30, 2012, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of April 30, 2012, 1,907 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 874 44.3%
Republican state senators 1,033 52.4%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.49%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Third Party state senators 2 0.10%
Vacancies 10 0.5%


There are 10 state senate vacancies as of April 30, 2012.

State Vacancies
Arizona 2
Idaho 1
Indiana 1
Minnesota 1
Nevada 2
New York 1
South Carolina 1
Wisconsin 1


There are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of April 30, 2012. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Alabama 1 (Independent)
Kentucky 1 (Independent)
Maine 1 (Independent)
Rhode Island 1 (Independent)
Vermont 2 (Vermont Progressive Party)

This week 25 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. No states are scheduled to convene this week while five states - Hawaii, Kansas, Arizona, Mississippi and Iowa - are expected to adjourn.

Eighteen 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 April 30, 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.

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, April 30, 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 9

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 9 special sessions in 6 states. Two are ongoing.


Gov. Sean Parnell (R) called for a special session earlier this month following the end of the Legislature's regular session in order to deal with unresolved issues, including oil taxes, an in-state natural gas pipeline project and strengthening penalties for people convicted of sex trafficking.[1]

It got underway April 18.[2] The sex trafficking bill quickly passed both chambers, but other issues proved tougher. The Senate adjourned last Thursday after the governor pulled the stalled oil tax plan from the agenda. The Senate said it "has no realistic alternative" other than to adjourn after Parnell's "sudden, unprecedented and unauthorized withdrawal" of the oil bill.[3]

As of Friday evening, the House had not decided what its next move would be. Per the state Constitution, if the House remains in session it can force the Senate to convene every three days.[4]


Maryland might hold a special session in order to deal with unfinished budget issues, but Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said he will only call one if legislative leaders agree that there will not be another stalemate. The General Assembly passed a budget before the regular session adjourned, but measures related to the budget stalled. Among these was a tax plan to balance the budget. Without one in place, $512 million in cuts will take effect.[5]

Addressing reporters last week, the governor confirmed there may be two special sessions - one to deal with revenue issues and one to deal with gaming.[6] Talks are ongoing but the first has been discussed for the week of May 14, with the second in July or August.[7]


The Virginia General Assembly remains in special session, but is in recess. It is estimated to officially adjourn May 2.[8] Virginia immediately convened a special session as soon as their regular session ended as they were unable to agree on a budget.

The Senate passed an $85 billion budget plan on April 18, sending it to the governor for review. The previous day saw a stalemate in the chamber over funding to extend the metro train system to Dulles International Airport.[9]

In recess

As of today, April 30, 4 states' sessions are currently in recess:

  • Maine - In recess from April 14 until May 13.[8]
  • New Jersey - In recess for budget hearings from March 16, 2012 through May 15, 2012[8]
  • North Carolina - Mid-term recess June 18, 2011 through May 12, 2012[8]
  • Wisconsin - In recess from March 17 to May 21.[8]

State news


After a contentious map-drawing process in Arizona was seemingly ended with the approval of maps by the Department of Justice, it seems that drama may be returning. Two lawsuits were filed last week against the new congressional and state legislative maps. Both lawsuits said the state's independent redistricting commission violated constitutional requirements on processes and criteria for drawing maps. The suit challenging the legislative district alleges that it unconstitutionally packs Republicans into certain districts, providing an advantage to Democrats in other districts.


The Florida Supreme Court has approved the second draft of the state's Senate districts. The map is expected to benefit state Republicans. However, the court found that opponents of the plan had not demonstrated that the map had been drawn for partisan purposes as forbidden under the state's "fair districts" amendment.[10]

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)


The Kansas State Senate Reapportionment Committee has approved a chamber map and revisions to a House map passed the House earlier this year. The revisions strain the tradition that each chamber may draws its own maps. House Speaker Mike O'Neal (R) has said that he will consider revisions to the Senate map unless it passes by a large margin.[11]

New Hampshire

Last week was a busy one for New Hampshire as three separate lawsuits were filed against the recently approved House districts. The city of Manchester filed a suit to block implementation of the new House districts on April 23, arguing that it is entitled to more representatives than it would receive under the plan. Manchester, which is the state's largest city, said the plan provides them with 31 representatives when it deserves 33 or 34.

The following day the city of Concord filed suit, arguing the House plan unconstitutionally deprives Ward 5 of its own representative. On Wednesday a third suit was filed by a group of Democratic lawmakers and activists. Lead petitioner Rep. Mary Jane Wallner (D) stated, "The House redistricting plan is unconstitutional and violates the letter and the spirit of the 2006 constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by New Hampshire voters." The amendment called on lawmakers to create as many single representative districts as possible.[12]

All three cases will be considered at a court hearing scheduled for Thursday.[13]


Mississippi's Republican House members pushed through a state legislative redistricting plan last week that would imperil white Democratic lawmakers while increasing the number of black majority districts. A total of 10 incumbents were paired into districts. The plan must be passed by the Mississippi State Senate as well and requires Justice Department approval. Because lawmakers in Mississippi serve 4-year terms, the new maps likely will not go into effect until the 2015 elections.

New York

Democrats received another blow in their case against the new Republican-drawn Senate districts on Friday as the U.S. Department of Justice stated it had no objections to the plan that adds a 63rd seat to the chamber. The state Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case on Thursday. Democrats appealed the case after state Supreme Court Justice Richard Braun rejected the Democrats' petition on April 13, saying they failed to establish that the process used by Republicans was unconstitutional. Democrats vowed to continue the fight in court, saying the plan disenfranchises minorities and violates the principle of one person, one vote.


Today the Vermont House of Representatives concurred with the Senate on H. 789 which redraws the state's legislative districts. The Senate had proposed controversial changes to the map originally passed by the House. However, those changes were dropped in favor of more modest adjustments. The new plan will add a seat to the Burlington area and pair Dennis Devereux (R) and Eldred French (D) in a single district.[14]

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

No states have signature filing deadlines this week.

So far, deadlines have passed in 26 states:

States with upcoming deadlines:


See also: 2012 election dates

There are no state legislative primaries taking place this week.

So far, primaries have taken place in three states:

A total of 10 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.


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 earlier this month organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts.[15] The Caswell campaign remains active.

Proposed recall petition language was submitted this month 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.[16]

Andring explained the campaign, saying, "I've always been critical of his policies because Randy's a liberal Republican and I'm a conservative Republican. Randy's a nice guy, but I disagree with his policies and it's time to say enough is enough." The Monroe County elections commission will meet May 2 to vote on the proposed recall language.[16]


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

Recalls are scheduled against four state senators. The primary will take 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.

In late March, state Republican Party officials announced plans to run Democratic candidates in all four recall primaries in order to ensure primaries in all races, which then guarantees all recalls will take place on the same day.[19] Because Wisconsin has an open primary system, voters do not have to be registered to a specific party in order to cast a vote in the primary. Therefore, Republican-leaning voters can cross over to the Democratic primary and vice-versa. Republicans used the same maneuver last year during the recall elections of six GOP state senators. The "fake" or "protest" candidates were all defeated in the primary, receiving between 29 and 44 percent of the vote.

Candidates in the recalls had until April 10 to file to get on the ballot, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board held a special meeting April 17 to consider challenges to the candidates and certify ballot access.[20] Democrats filed a complaint against all of the protest candidates, arguing they knowingly gave false information on documents submitted to election officials, but that was rejected by GAB, allowing them to stay on the ballot.[21] Republicans have not minced words when it comes to their intentions behind the fake candidates, as State Rep. Robin Vos openly stated, "We are encouraging Republicans to vote in the Democratic primaries."[22]

Matchups for the May 8 primaries are as follows:

District 13 - Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R)
District 21 - Sen. Van Wanggaard (R)
District 23 - Sen. Terry Moulton (R)
District 29 - Sen. Pam Galloway (R)
  • Note: Galloway resigned, but the recall against her continues as scheduled. State Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R) is running in her place.
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 10: 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. Coshocton Tribune, "Governor calling special session on 3 issues," April 16, 2012
  2. Anchorage Daily News, "No hurry-up in Juneau as special session gets under way," April 19, 2012
  3. News-Miner, "Alaska Senate adjourns special session," April 26, 2012
  4. The Republic, "Alaska House considering its next step after Senate adjourned from special session," April 27, 2012
  5. Gazette.Net, "O'Malley: No special session without consensus," April 13, 2012
  6. Washington Post, "Maryland looking at two special sessions," March 24, 2012
  7. Washington Post, "Md. special sessions complicate fundraising rules," April 26, 2012
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 StateScape, Session schedules," accessed April 30, 2012
  9. Reuters, "Virginia legislature approves $85 bln budget," April 18, 2012
  10. Palm Beach Post, "Florida Supreme Court leaves GOP with edge in senate district maps," April 27, 2012
  11. Real Clear Politics, "Kansas Senate panel advances new districts," April 27, 2012
  12. Concord Monitor, "Third suit filed over redistricting," April 26, 2012
  13. My San Antonio, "Court hearing set over NH House redistricting plan," April 28, 2012
  14. VT Digger, "Digger Tidbit: Redistricting map finished," April 30, 2012
  15. The Times Herald, "State Sen. Phil Pavlov recall fails," April 13, 2012
  16. 16.0 16.1 MLive, "Sen. Randy Richardville is recall target of fellow Republican," April 18, 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. Channel 3000, "GOP Plans To Run Democratic Candidates In 4 Recall Races," March 30, 2012
  20. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "GAB Special Board Meeting," accessed April 16, 2012
  21. The Northwestern, "Democrats challenge fake Dems on recall ballots," April 12, 2012
  22. Real Clear Politics, "GOP hoping cross over voting affect recalls," April 22, 2012
  23. Daily Union, "Ellerman running as a protest candidate," April 2, 2012
  24. Caledonia Patch, "GOP's Official Protest Candidate Files Papers for the 21st District," April 3, 2012
  25. The Republic, “Wisconsin Republicans name fake Democrats for recall primaries,” April 4, 2012
  26. WQOW, ""Fake Democrat" files to run in 29th Senate District," April 4, 2012