Note: This is an abridged version of the Tracker. For the full report, click here.
State legislative recalls in Wisconsin made national headlines in 2011 as voters in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin successfully used the process to remove a total of three senators and one representative from office. The trend continued in 2012 as Wisconsin once again saw recalls make the ballot, resulting in the removal of one senator.
Alongside those successes, however, most recall efforts fizzled out long before going to a vote. The latest recall to fail took place last week in Louisiana. In March of this year, recall organizers started circulating petitions to recall Republican Speaker of the House Charles “Chuck” Kleckley from office.
The efforts, led by a group of teachers, began largely as a result of public education reforms backed by Kleckley and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). Organizers had to collect signatures equal to one-third of the registered voters of Kleckley’s district, which came out to roughly 9,000, by September 19. The recall effort failed to collect enough signatures by the deadline and the signatures that were collected were never turned in as organizers were worried about reprisals against those who had signed. The effort against Jindal also failed.
Three other recall campaigns are continuing on in the state as organizers have also targeted three other Republican legislators – Kevin Pearson, George Cromer and Ray Garofalo. It appears unlikely that any of them will succeed.
While the most recent round of Wisconsin recalls have been over for several months, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, the agency that oversees elections, released a new report this month detailing the cost of those elections. Their findings? Local governments spent approximately $13.5 million on the recalls, most of which ultimately falls to local taxpayers. In a statement GAB director Kevin Kennedy said, “Instead of conducting two primaries and two elections this year, Wisconsin election officials will be conducting six elections, which added approximately $13.5 million in unbudgeted costs. These unplanned elections also put significant stress on Wisconsin’s clerks, who have many other duties beyond elections.”
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. Since 2011, there have been 15 state legislative recalls in three states, five of which resulted in the legislator being recalled.
This week 4 out of 50 state legislatures – Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania – are meeting in regular session, while Massachusetts is meeting in informal session, which it will continue to do throughout the rest of the year. As of May 16, all states had convened their 2012 sessions.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
- Click here to see a chart of each state’s 2012 session information.
Although most states have concluded 2012 business, some states have already begun 2013 action. Drafting for 2013 has begun in Montana and North Dakota, while prefiling of legislation is going on in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia.
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 20 special sessions in 16 states. There are no special sessions currently scheduled.
As of today, September 24, 4 state’s sessions are currently in recess:
- California – In recess from September 1, 2012 to November 29, 2012.
- Illinois – In recess from August 17, 2012 to November 27, 2012.
- New York – In recess from June 22, 2012 to January 7, 2013.
- Wisconsin – In recess from March 17 to December 31, 2012.
2012 Legislative Elections
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.
As of July 12, all signature filing deadlines had passed.
- See also: 2012 election dates
A total of 197 state legislative incumbents were defeated in a primary – 123 Republicans and 74 Democrats.
Primaries took place in 44 states in 2012. For a review of what happened, click on the state below:
- Ohio – March 6
- Illinois – March 20
- Pennsylvania – April 24
- Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia – May 8
- Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon – May 15
- Arkansas, Kentucky – May 22
- Texas – May 29
- California, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota – June 5
- Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina – June 12
- Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah – June 26
- Georgia – July 31
- Tennessee – August 2
- Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Washington – August 7
- Hawaii – August 11
- Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin – August 14
- Wyoming – August 21
- Alaska, Arizona, Vermont – August 28
- Massachusetts – September 6
- Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island – September 11
- New York – September 13
So far in 2012 there have been 32 special elections in 13 states.
There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.
Upcoming special elections include:
- November 6: Kentucky Senate District 19
- November 6: Mississippi State Senate District 19
- November 6: New Jersey Assembly Districts 16, 26, 68
- December 4: Wisconsin State Senate District 33
- December 11: Alabama House of Representatives Districts 30, 34
- January 8, 2013: California State Senate District 4
- January 8, 2013: Georgia State Senate District 30