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Welcome to the fifth edition of our new publication, Ballot Box Weekly, a compilation of election coverage from across the various pages on Ballotpedia and Judgepedia. Our weekly series will be published on Wednesday afternoons and cover a range of election news from our projects, including candidate filing deadlines, primaries and elections. The report focuses specifically on the projects covered by the staff of Ballotpedia and Judgepedia: state executives, state legislatures, school boards, State courts, Congress and state and local ballot measures. We’ll be bringing you an assortment of elections coverage each week from up and down the ballot. This report is generated by the non-profit, non-partisan Lucy Burns Institute, the organization that sponsors Ballotpedia and Judgepedia.
This week’s Ballot Box Weekly features a look at the dozens of elections that took place yesterday and the results of those races. We’ll provide a big-picture overview of the emerging trends from election-night 2013. For all the details of yesterday’s races, visit the Ballotpedia and Judgepedia election hub pages.
What happened at the polls?
Elections this weeks took place across the country and included gubernatorial elections, school board elections, an attorney general election, ballot measure elections, judicial elections and state legislature elections. Some of the biggest results:
- Virginia Democratic candidates flipped two state executive official positions, eliminating a Republican trifecta.
- Colorado voters rejected a tax increase ballot measure.
- Republicans picked up four seats in the New Jersey and Virginia state houses. Democrats retained a comfortable majority in the New Jersey State Legislature while Republicans grew their majority in the Virginia state house to two-thirds. Four incumbents were defeated between the three chambers that held regular elections. In New Jersey, two incumbents fell, which is an increase from 2011 when zero incumbents were defeated.
- Chris Christie easily won re-election as Governor of New Jersey.
- Both Pennsylvania State Supreme Court justices won retention.
- Colorado voters approved a marijuana tax.
- Cincinnati voters rejected a pension reform measure while voters in Hialeah, Florida approved a measure reforming elected official pension plans.
|Election Coverage across Ballotpedia/Judgepedia — November 4-November 10, 2013|
|Race||Date||Number of Seats Up for Election|
|Virginia House of Delegates||November 5, 2013||100|
|New Jersey State Senate||November 5, 2013||40|
|New Jersey General Assembly||November 5, 2013||80|
|Special elections||November 5, 2013||17|
|Alabama’s 1st congressional district||November 5, 2013||1|
|School Boards||November 5, 2013||633|
|Virginia Governor||November 5, 2013||2|
|Virginia Attorney General||November 5, 2013||1|
|New Jersey Governor/Lt. Governor||November 5, 2013||2|
|Judicial Elections||November 5, 2013||663|
Virginia Gubernatorial Election
- See also: Virginia gubernatorial election, 2013
The race for Virginia’s gubernatorial seat was a close one, with a Democratic victory and a relatively high vote percentage for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis. Democratic businessman Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Incumbent Bob McDonnell (R) was term limited from running for re-election in 2013. Due to Virginia’s strict term limits, Virginia governors cannot serve two consecutive terms.
According to unofficial vote totals from the Virgnia State Board of Elections, McAuliffe earned 48 percent of the votes while Cuccinelli earned a close 45.5 percent. Sarvis earned 6.6 percent of the vote, a higher percentage than Cuccinelli lost by and more than any third party candidate in a Virginia gubernatorial election over the past 16 years.
The Democratic victory is an important one, as it changes the state’s status as a trifecta. A trifecta is when one political party holds both the governorship, a majority in the state senates and a majority in the state houses. While the State Senate is a tied chamber as a result of the 2011 elections, the tiebreaking vote is cast by the Lieutenant Governor. Prior to this election, this was a Republican which effectively meant that control of the Governorship and state legislature rested with the Republicans. Democrat Ralph Northam won the Lieutenant Governor seat, which will provide Democratic control of the State Senate. With the removal of the GOP trifecta, Virginia is now a divided government. When the new officials are sworn into office in January 2014, there will be 36 trifectas in the country — 23 Republican and 13 Democratic.
Douglas County School District elections
Four seats on the board of the Douglas County School Board of Directors were up for countywide election on November 5, covering Districts B, D, E and G. There are seven board seats total in Douglas County divided by geographic districts. The school board election determined leadership on the board, whether members backed by the local Republican Party would maintain the majority of seats on the Board, continuing the board’s reform efforts. The reform issues at stake this year include a voucher program, and a pay-for-performance plan for teachers. Incumbents Meghann Silverthorn and Doug Benevento both retained their seats on the board. They were endorsed by the Douglas County Republican Party, which also backed challengers James Geddes and Judi Reynolds who also won election. In the 2009 and 2011 elections, the Douglas County Republican Party endorsed the six current members and former member Dan Gerken. The race included allegations from winner Meghann Silverthorn that challenger Ronda Scholting selectively edited a September 13 interview between Silverthorn and local radio host Mike Rosen.
Candidates raised nearly $200,000 over the course of the election. The results and approval of the existing board indicate voters preference for the continuation of the current policies.
Upcoming Candidate Filing Deadlines
There were no filing deadlines this week and are none in the next week.
Looking ahead: upcoming elections
- November 12, 2013: Arkansas State Senate District 21 will hold a special runoff election. Sen. Paul Bookout (D) resigned on on August 21, 2013, after he was fined $8,000 by the Arkansas Ethics Commission for spending campaign funds on personal items. A special election was called for January 14, with a primary on October 8. The runoff election will be to determine both the Democratic and Republican candidates. Democrats Steve Rockwell and Radius Baker will square off as well as Republicans Dan Sullivan and John Cooper.
|Quote of the Week|
- November 16, 2013: Louisiana House District 87 will hold a special election on November 16. Rep. Girod Jackson, III (D) resigned on August 22, 2013, after being charged with tax fraud and failing to file taxes. Democrat Ebony Woodruff is the only candidate in the special election.