Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Texas are holding elections next week. Find out what's on your ballot in our latest report.

The Ballotpedia News Update

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The Ballotpedia News Update provides a list of the latest news articles on Ballotpedia about elections, politicians and candidates at all levels of government, state policies, ballot measures and more. Use the tabs to navigate to specific weekly reports or news archives. Read more about Ballotpedia's areas of coverage here.


Common Core testing looms over St. Tammany's District 14 special election

By Margaret Koenig

School Board badge.png
The successor to District 14 board member Ray Anthony Alfred (1954-2014) will be determined March 28, 2015.

The first of this year's two special elections for the St. Tammany Parish School Board in Louisiana is March 28, 2015. Either Dennis "Coach" Cousin (D) or John Murchison (I) will join the largely Republican school board as the District 14 representative. The winner will also become part of the board's struggle with the ramifications of Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) executive order allowing parents to opt out of the state's spring standardized tests.

After being automatically re-elected due to a lack of challengers in the 2014 general election, six-term District 14 incumbent Ray Anthony Alfred (D) died on September 17, 2014, at the age of 60.[1] According to Article VI, Section 13 of the Louisiana Constitution and state law, all vacancies on the board are filled by appointment by the St. Tammany Parish School Board for the remainder of the unexpired term of the vacated seat or, if the unexpired term is longer than one year, until a special election can be held.

Alfred's father, Anthony Alfred, was selected by the board to fill the vacancy in October 2014.[2] He will serve until the successor is determined in this election and has taken the prescribed oath of office.[3] Saturday's winner will serve until the next regular school board election in 2018.

The District 12 seat will also be up for special election on October 24, 2015, following the death of incumbent James "Ronnie" Panks Sr. (R) on January 14, 2015.[4] The candidate filing deadline for the District 12 election is September 10, 2015.

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What's on your ballot? - March 27, 2015

By Ballotpedia staff

Elections on March 31 will consist of a handful of state legislative special elections between Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Texas.

After defeating four candidates in the March 3 Democratic primary, Adrian Madaro (D) will face off against Joanne T. Pomodoro (I) for the First Suffolk District of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.[5] The seat was left vacant after Carlo Basile (D) resigned on January 7, in order to serve as chief secretary for Gov. Charlie Baker (R).[6][7]

In the New Hampshire House of Representatives, a special primary election will be held between Republican candidates Yvonne M. Dean-Bailey and Brian J. Stone. Maureen R. Mann is unchallenged in the Democratic primary.[8] District Rockingham 32 was left vacant after Brian F. Dobson (R) took a position as veteran liason for U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta (R).[9] The general election will take place on May 19.[10]

District 124 of the Texas House of Representatives was left vacant following Jose Menendez's (D) election to the Texas State Senate on February 17.[11] The special general election will be held between four Democratic candidates.[12]

Note: Click on the links below for more details about each race and election results.

St. Joseph School District settles Musser lawsuit

Sen. Harry Reid to retire

By Sarah Rosier and the Congress team

Sen. Harry Reid
<iframe src="" width="200" height="150" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe>
"Thank You!" video from Sen. Reid's YouTube account

After insisting for months that he would seek re-election in 2016, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released a video stating that he would not run in 2016 after all.[13]

In the video, where he can be seen with an eye injury he acquired in a January accident, Reid outlines his reasons for retiring in 2016. "We have to make sure that the Democrats take control of the Senate again. And I feel it is inappropriate for me to soak up all those resources on me when I could be devoting those resources to the caucus, and that’s what I intend to do."[14]

Reid also specifically mentions his Republican rival, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). "My friend, Senator McConnell, don’t be too elated. I am going to be here for twenty-two months, and you know what I’m going to be doing? The same thing I’ve done since I first came to the Senate."

Reid was first elected to the Senate in 1986. He took over as the Senate Minority Leader in January 2015, following the 2014 elections. He previously served as Senate Majority Leader from January 2007 to January 2015.[15]

Iran nuclear agreement talks resume ahead of deadline

By Kelly Coyle

Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran resumed in Switzerland on Thursday as the March 31 deadline for striking a deal with Iran to limit their nuclear program nears.

The current negotiations are the result of the historic "Joint Plan of Action" agreement reached on November 24, 2013. Iran agreed to freeze elements of their nuclear program and allow inspectors to examine their nuclear facilities. In return the P5+1, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States — plus Germany, agreed to lift some sanctions placed on Iran.[16] Since November 2013, the P5+1 and Iran have been working toward a "comprehensive solution."

Secretary of State John Kerry and others negotiating a deal are pushing for specific limitations on the number of centrifuges and amount of enriched uranium Iran can have, which would limit Iran's ability to obtain a nuclear weapon. Iranians, however, have refused to agree to any specifics. Iran has also demanded "to continue nuclear research and development during the duration of the deal" and for sanctions to be "lifted immediately at the outset of the deal," according to The Los Angeles Times.[17] The potential deal is also complicated by members of Congress who have said that they will not approve a deal unless specific limitations are placed on Iran's nuclear program.[18]

A European diplomat involved in the negotiations said that specificity is "one of the biggest challenges we face" in reaching an agreement. "The politics in America demand specificity, and an Iranian commitment. And the politics in Iran demand vagueness. ... All of us are in agreement that you don’t make oral deals with Iran," the diplomat explained.[18]

According to The New York Times, "The core test, established by Mr. Kerry, is whether any agreement would give the West, Israel and Iran’s wary Arab neighbors at least one year’s warning time if Iran decided to race for a bomb — known as a 'breakout.' That requires a complex calculation, dictated by the number of centrifuges that are spinning, the size of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium and, in the later years of the accord, the type and number of advanced centrifuges Iran is allowed to develop."[18]

If the framework for an agreement is reached by March 31, the P5+1 and Iran will have until June 30 to draft a final agreement. Members of Congress have demanded the ability to review a deal before any actions are taken and have proposed legislation to do so. They have stated that they, and not President Obama, have the authority to lift or renew sanctions on Iran. If an agreement in not reached, "Republican lawmakers have pledged to enforce new sanctions on Iran," according to The Wall Street Journal.

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015


















  1. The Times-Picayune, "St. Tammany Parish School Board member Ray Alfred dies," September 17, 2014
  2. The Times-Picayune, "St. Tammany School Board taps familiar candidate to fill open seat," October 3, 2014
  3. St. Tammany Parish Public Schools, "School Board: Policies," accessed December 31, 2014
  4. The Advocate, "Ronnie Panks, longest-serving St. Tammany School Board member, dies at 69," February 5, 2015
  5. Boston Globe, "Voters lift Madaro in E. Boston House primary," March 4, 2015
  6. WBZ/AP, "Charlie Baker’s Cabinet Nearly Filled," January 8, 2015
  7. CommonWealth, "DeLeo reelected as Speaker," January 7, 2015
  8. New Hampshire Secretary of State, "Official candidate list," accessed February 11, 2015
  9., "State Representative Resigns," January 8, 2015
  10. New Hampshire Union Leader, "Student, 19, running for state rep seat," February 2, 2015
  11., "Special election March 31 will replace Menendez in House," March 4, 2015
  12. Texas Secretary of State, "Official candidate list," accessed March 11, 2015
  13. ABC News, "Senate's Harry Reid Announces He Won't Seek Re-Election," March 27, 2015
  14. United States Senator for Nevada Harry Reid, "Thank You," March 27, 2015
  15. USA Today, "GOP officially puts McConnell in charge of the Senate," November 13, 2014
  16. CNN, "The Iran nuclear deal: full text," accessed March 24, 2015
  17. Los Angeles Times, "Iran nuclear deal close; both sides face harsh politics at home," accessed March 25, 2015
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 The New York Times, "In Nuclear Talks, Iran Seeks to Avoid Specifics," accessed March 25, 2015