By Wendy Underhill
April was a quiet month in Primaryville, with no states holding primaries. May is another story altogether, with 12 states holding state primaries.
By Memorial Day, major party candidates for 1,655 seats (out of a total of 7,386 seats nationwide, and 6,240 up for election this November) will be determined.
The most dramatic action is in Ohio. The Buckeye State has not yet gotten approval from the state supreme court for new redistricting maps for the state Senate and House. A federal court ruled that if new and approved legislative maps aren’t agreed upon by the end of May, it—the federal court—will implement the most recently adopted (but invalidated by the state supreme court) legislative maps. The thinking: If districts are uncertain, then candidates can’t file, and an election can’t take place, and May 28 is the last date the court believes can work to run this year’s elections.
The upshot is that the regularly scheduled May 3 primary will include congressional races, races for statewide offices, judicial races (including the state supreme court) and local races—but not legislative races. A second primary will likely be called, after maps have settled. When? TBD.
Here’s the full May primaries line-up:
May 3—Ohio and Indiana. In Indiana, half of the 50 four-year Senate seats are up; the other half will be elected in 2 years. Indiana was one of the first states to complete redistricting, with maps signed by the governor six weeks after census data was received.
May 10— Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Nebraska is unique in that there is just one legislative chamber (the Senate) and it is nonpartisan. Senate candidates run without a party affiliation on the ballot, like many candidates for local offices in other states. The two highest vote getters in the primary move on to the general election.
May 17—North Carolina. Originally, Tar Heel voters expected a March primary; because the census was delayed, redistricting was delayed; with that as background, the state supreme court delayed the primary as well.
May 24—Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia have their primaries, with primary runoffs scheduled for June 21. Texas held its primary on March 3 and May 24 is its primary runoff. If the idea of a primary runoff isn’t familiar to you, then you probably aren’t from the south. Learn more about primary runoffs here.
For all primary dates and candidate filing deadlines, see NCSL’s 2022 State Primary Dates webpage.
Wendy Underhill is the director of NCSL's Elections and Redistricting Program.