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The Executive Summary: Primaries wrap up as the chosen few charge ahead to the general election

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September 20, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka

With the general election less than two months away, we are proud to present to you the eight edition of The Executive Summary! What better way to keep up to date with all the recent happenings in state executive offices across the nation?

Today we start off in the Northeast region of the country, highlighting recent primary results from Delaware and New Hampshire, along with an elections update out of Vermont. From there we'll go south all the way to the Sunshine State for a look at the Secretary of Environmental Protection who is currently under fire, and an introduction to the new interim Commissioner of Education.

Finally, we'll bring the whole country into view with our continuing series on state executive positions, this time featuring a spotlight on Auditors.

Elections

Elections and filings

This year, 22 states are holding regularly-scheduled state executive official elections. In those elections, a total of 37 state executive seats and 57 down ballot seats are up for election. Wisconsin also held two special recall elections for Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov Rebecca Kleefisch on June 5, 2012.

  • 21 states have already held primary elections.
  • Louisiana will hold its primary election for statewide races on November 6, 2012, when all other states hold their general election.
  • As of September 6th, candidate filing periods have closed in all 22 states.
  • Since the last edition, two states held primary elections: Delaware and New Hampshire.

Delaware

See also: Delaware state executive official elections, 2012
Delaware

In Delaware three state executive offices are up for election in 2012: governor, lieutenant governor, and insurance commissioner. In the race for governor and lieutenant governor, a single candidate from each party ran unopposed in the September 11th primary, automatically advancing them to the general election where they will face off for the state executive positions. Incumbent Jack Markell (D) will face challenger Jeff Cragg (R) in the gubernatorial election. In the race for lieutenant governor, incumbent Matthew Denn (D) will face Republican challenger Sher Valenzuela in November.

In the race for insurance commissioner, four Democratic candidates, made up of one incumbent and three challengers, all battled for the nomination. Incumbent Karen Weldin Stewart defeated challengers Mitch Crane, Paul Gallagher, and Dennis Spivack in the Democratic primary.[1] While candidate Mitch Crane looked to be the front-runner coming into the primary, Stewart managed to beat out Crane for the nomination.

As the final votes were being counted, Stewart said, “I feel good. I had expected it – I worked really hard for the people of Delaware. They know I worked hard for them, and they voted me back in.”[2] Stewart will advance to the general election, where she said if re-elected, she will continue to advocate for consumers. “The consumer always comes first,” she said. “Everything we look at revolves around the consumer in Delaware, whether it’s a small business, large business or an individual. We’re going to keep that our focus.”[2]

On the Republican ticket a single candidate, Benjamin Mobley, ran unopposed, automatically advancing to the general election to face incumbent Karen Weldin Stewart. Stewart and Mobley will also face Libertarian Party candidate David R. Eisenhour in the general election on November 6, 2012.

Below is complete list of candidates who will advance to the general election:

Governor

Lieutenant Governor

Insurance Commmissioner

New Hampshire

See also: New Hampshire state executive official elections, 2012
New Hampshire

New Hampshire voters had a single state executive office, governor, on the September 11th primary ballot in 2012. Voters in the state narrowed down the race of three Democratic candidates and three Republican gubernatorial candidates to each party's nominee. In September 2011, incumbent governor John Lynch announced he would not seek another term in office. He explained although "for me, being governor of the State of New Hampshire is the best job in the world [and] serving in this role is the highest privilege of my life, democracy demands periodic change. To refresh and revive itself, democracy needs new leaders and new ideas."[4]

Six candidates were eager to take Lynch up on his call to "refresh and revive" the state of New Hampshire: three Republicans and three Democrats. Ovide Lamontagne (R) is making his second run for the state's top office; he ran unsuccessfully in 1996 but is now the best known of the candidates and has a slight lead over all of the Democratic candidates in polling. Two former state Senators ran for the Democratic nomination, though neither Maggie Hassan nor Jackie Cilley were well known among New Hampshire voters who have, in the context of this election, been dubbed "an unengaged electorate."[5]

On the Democratic ticket, former state senators Jackie Cilley and Maggie Hassan, along with candidate Bill Kennedy, all ran for the nomination. In the end, Hassan emerged as the winner of the nomination.[6]

In the Republican primary, Ovide Lamontagne, former state representative Kevin Smith, and Robert Tarr all ran for the nomination. Lamontagne was favored to win the primary and did so, beating out Smith and Robert Tarr for the nomation.[7]

Lamontagne and Hassan will also face Libertarian candidate John J. Babiarz in the general election for governor on November 6, 2012.

Below is complete list of candidates who will advance to the general election:

Governor

Vermont recount raises profile for party, potential for new primary date

Vermont

Three weeks of post-primary scrambling in the secretary of state’s office and Vermont voters can now size up a full spread of statewide candidate options for the November election. Apparent irregularities in the vote count and narrow victory for Progressive Party nominee for governor, Martha Abbott, over Vermonters for a Clean Environment executive write-in candidate, Annette Smith, were the reason for the delay. Initial counts following the August 28th primary separated Abbott, who has since bowed out of the race, from the write-ins by a margin sufficient to qualify for a recount, and on September 18th, Judge Robert Bent of the Washington Superior Court confirmed Abbott as the primary victor.[8]

Under Vermont law, a recount can be ordered on the conditions that the vote totals for two candidates in a given race fall within 2% of each other and that it can be conducted before the federal government’s deadline for states’ general election ballots to be printed and sent to military and overseas residents. Also under Vermont law, Abbott’s departure does not give Smith the nomination by default. As Abbott had designed, no Progressive candidate will be listed on the ballot for governor in the 2012 general election. Smith responded to the ruling by pledging to run in the general election as a write-in candidate. “If there’s a popular uprising out there, I’m going to give people a chance to express it,” she said, and added that she already accepted an invitation to participate in a televised debate with Republican nominee Randy Brock scheduled for October 11th.[9]

The recount was a productive exercise not only for the Progressives for bringing resolution and considerable attention to the race, but also for the secretary of state’s office, which oversees Vermont’s greater elections apparatus. Support for change to the state’s primary election calendar has been humming on low volume for some time. Election officials have grown increasingly wary of how the current timeframe correlates with, or causes, human error in vote tallies. The mad rush to complete the recount, which Smith was statutorily entitled to request within 10 days after the primary,[10] in time to meet the September 23rd deadline for sending general election ballots to military and overseas voters, raised renewed interest in a Spring primary.

Incidents of human counting errors were both enhanced and exposed by the exhausting, extended hours elections officials had to log to execute the recount, prompting secretary of state Jim Condos to express plans to push for the statewide office primary date to be changed to May or June in the next legislative session. An earlier date would also position the state-office primaries closer to Vermont’s presidential primary, which happens in March. A condensed primary season could make the system overall more effective and efficient.[11]

Mark your calendar
DateEvent
September 25Pennsylvania campaign finance reports are due
September 28West Virginia campaign finance reports are due
September 30Georgia campaign finance reports are due
October 1Ballotpedia releases updated statewide projections report
October 6Missouri post-primary candidate filing deadline


Controversies

Florida

Florida Secretary of Environmental Protection under fire

Back in January 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) appointed Herschel Vinyard, who was a member of Scott's Economic Development Transition Team, as Florida Secretary of Environmental Protection. Among his touted credentials for the position was Vinyard's time spent handling government regulations as director of business operations at BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards. Vinyard's employment history, and whether he can continue to serve in the position, however, soon came under fire as questions have circulated regarding whether he lied on his resume or not. The situation continues to develop, but in order to make sense of it one needs to go back to the beginning.

In February 2011, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Florida Clean Water Network filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleging Vinyard was in violation of a clause within the Clean Water Act that bars "the appointment of any state decision-maker on pollution discharge permits in federal quality water programs who has during the previous two years received a significant portion of his income directly or indirectly from permits holders or applicants of a permit."[12]

According to the resume Vinyard submitted when applying for the position, he was director of business operations for a unit of BAE Systems in which he "counseled the company on major environmental permitting decisions." Vinyard was also chairman of the Shipbuilders Council of America, a group representing over 100 companies in the industry.[13] When the EPA initially investigated the matter, the DEP general counsel said Vinyard only worked for BAE for two weeks and received little income from the company. However, on a questionnaire Vinyard submitted to the governor's office, he listed BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards as his primary employer from 1999-2011. According to PEER, the BAE unit held permits for national pollutant discharge elimination systems during the two years prior to Vinyard's appointment.

In September 2012, a letter from the DEP said Vinyard actually worked for the Classic Act company, which never held or applied for such permits. Jerry Phillips, director of the Florida chapter of PEER, pointed out the issue with this new twist, saying "His résumé doesn't show any mention of Classic Act. They're denying that [Vinyard] worked for BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, a company that he swore under oath that he worked for. Neither the application or résumé show any mention of Classic Act. The letter he sent to the EPA does not include any proof of where he in fact worked."[12]

Appointments

Florida Commissioner of Education

Florida

After serving in the position for a little over a year, Gerard Robinson unexpectedly resigned as Florida Commissioner of Education on July 31, 2012, and officially departed on August 31. Robinson, who previously served as Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction from January 2010 to June 2011, said it was too difficult “living far away from my family,” who remained in Virginia. The Florida Department of Education had faced harsh criticism during the months prior, most of which focused on the school-accountability system, which showed standardized test scores much lower than expected. In addition, on July 20 it was revealed that the DOE miscalculated some of the school grades for 40 of the state’s 67 school districts.[14]

The Florida Board of Education named Pam Stewart to replace Robinson as interim commissioner while they move ahead with the process to find a permanent replacement. Stewart, who had been serving as state Chancellor of Public Schools, assumed office on September 1.[15] Candidates have until September 27 to apply for the position.[16]

Featured office

TCSpotlight.png
Featured office: Auditor

Quick facts about Auditors
  • Auditor is a partisan position in all 24 states where it is publicly elected.
  • Appointed auditors serve as nonpartisan officials, with the exception of Connecticut, where Democrats and Republicans each have one nomination, resulting in two partisan auditors who share the office.
  • In 2010 the annual salaries for state auditors ranged from $54,305 (Arkansas) to $198,000 (Texas).

Auditor is a state level position in 48 states, selected either by appointment or by the people through standard election channels. The office is partisan in each of the 24 states where the auditor is publicly elected, plus one - Connecticut - where Republicans and Democrats each nominate someone to share the office. Among appointed auditors, it is common for a dedicated legislative committee to nominate an auditor, who is then confirmed by a simple majority vote of both legislative chambers. Many appointed auditors serve at the pleasure of the legislature or of the specific committee charged with audits. In these states, an auditor may be removed with either a simple majority or a three-fifths vote at any time.

The primary duties of the office is to supervise and administer the accounting and financial functions of the state. Additionally, auditors act as watchdogs over other state agencies, performing internal government audits and investigating fraud allegations. As indicated by the joint billing of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers, an "organization for state officials who deal with the financial management of state government," duties of State Auditors may collide and run together with those of other state level financial officials such as Treasurers and Comptrollers.[17] In states where two or all three offices exist, it can seem impossible to disentangle their individual roles and responsibilities. Rather than create a colossally complex venn diagram to illustrate the overlapping functions, let’s contradistinguish that there are eight states where the auditor, treasurer and comptroller coexist, two states where there is no person known as state auditor (New York and Tennessee, which both have a treasurer and comptroller) and two states (Alaska and Florida) without a state treasurer, and only one state where there is just one of the three - Florida. Before sighing with relief over finally landing on a state where all financial duties are concentrated and consolidated in a single office, consider that although Florida has neither a comptroller nor a treasurer, there’s a state-level, publicly elected Chief Financial Officer that shares its duties with the state auditor.

Adding to the puzzle, the state auditor belongs to either the Executive or the Legislative branch, depending on state. While the offices are similar in function, a legislative auditor functions primarily under the state legislature and is not considered a state executive office. About three-quarters of auditors state executive officials, and a total of 8 states have both auditor offices, including Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

If your face hasn't turned purple yet from trying to process these figures, congratulations. You may have what it takes to be your state's next auditor. Or treasurer.

Or, if you live in Florida and prefer a more unique title, state chief financial officer.

Recent news articles

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References

  1. AP Results "Insurance Commissioner Results" Accessed September 11, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dover Post "Stewart beats out 3 challengers in Democratic primary for Insurance Commissioner" Accessed September 11, 2012
  3. AP Results "DE Insurance Commissioner Results" Accessed September 11, 2012
  4. NewHampshire.com, "Governor won't seek corner office again," September 19, 2011
  5. National Journal "New Hampshire Voters Unengaged in Race for Governor" Accessed September 8, 2012
  6. New Hampshire Public Radio "New Hampshire Governor" Accessed September 11, 2012
  7. AP Results "New Hampshire Governor Election Results" Accessed September 11, 2012
  8. Boston.com, "Vt. judge confirms Abbott wins Progressive primary," September 18, 2012
  9. ‘’Vtdigger.org,’’ “Abbott wins recount, Smith will run anyway,” September 17, 2012
  10. Vermont Elections, "2012 Detailed Elections Calendar," accessed September 18, 2012
  11. ‘’Boston.com,’’ “Vt. Judge: Abbott most likely won the Progressive primary,” September 17, 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 Broward/Palm Beach New Times, "DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard Says He Didn't Lie on Résumé; PEER Not Buying It," September 11, 2012
  13. Broward/Palm Beach New Times, "EPA Wants to Know if Herschel Vinyard, Secretary of Florida's Department of Environmental Protection, Lied on His Resume," May 18, 2012
  14. ‘’Orlando Sentinel,’’ “Education Commissioner Robinson resigns suddenly,” August 1, 2012
  15. ‘’Tampa Bay Times,’’ “Florida Board of Education chooses interim Commissioner,” August 2, 2012
  16. ‘’The Florida Current,’’ “Board of Education remains in hunt for new state Commissioner,” September 7, 2012
  17. ‘’National Association of State Auditors, Treasurers, and Comptrollers,’’ “Homepage,” accessed September 19, 2012