The 2020 presidential election has (rightfully) been the center of political coverage as of late. The values and vision of whoever takes a seat in the Oval Office is an important decision that is worthy of rigorous debate and thorough analysis, but there are also other elected positions on the 2020 ballot that deserve just as much attention.
Here are the other seats we need to be equally invested in as a community—especially if we want to move the anti-racism agenda forward.
Who Serves as Your U.S. Representative?
Duties: The 435 voting members of the House of Representatives are tasked with introducing bills and resolutions, serving on committees, and voting on legislation, among other duties. The House works closely with the Senate to pass legislation that can eventually be signed into law by the president. With the Congresspeople representing wildly different demographics with just as varied needs and preferences, the ability to compromise in a smart way is a crucial skill for a successful Representative to have. Major issues that are important nationally and locally such budgets and redistricting are frequently in the laps of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Term Limits: House members serve two-year terms. There is no limit to how many terms they can serve.
Salary: Members of the House receive an annual salary of $174,000. The Speaker of the House, who is currently Nancy Pelosi, receives a salary of $223,500/year. The majority and minority leaders in the House earn $193,400 per year. House reps do not receive additional money for being on committees.
What You Should Know: Representatives are advocates in Washington D.C. for their constituents in their respective localities. Citizens should expect their reps to vote in the best interest of their districts on all matters, from civil rights legislation to national budgets to minimum wage considerations. The House also works with the Senate went it comes to impeachment proceedings. Voters can see how their representatives voted on specific bills via Congress.gov.
Open U.S. House of Representative Seats in the 2020 Election:
All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are on the ballot for the November 2020 election. Check here to find more information on what are considered the “battleground states” for this role.
Who Serves as Your U.S. Senator?
Duties: The 100 elected officials (two from each state) who serve as United States Senators perform a number of high-level tasks, including impeachment trials, approving treaties, and investigations of the executive branch.
Term Limits: Senators serve six-year terms and have no term limits.
Salary: $174,000 is the annual salary for Senators. President pro tempore of the Senate and the majority and minority leaders in the Senate receive a salary of $193,400/year.
What You Should Know: Supreme Court decisions can have immediate impacts on the everyday lives and future generations of Americans. The recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the LGBTQ community are proof of that. The Senate is responsible for accepting or declining Supreme Court nominations from the president. Supreme Court Justices serve life-time appointments, so their placement and their decisions ring far into the future.
Open Senate Seats in the 2020 Election: There are 33 Senate seats in contention for the 2020 election. 12 of those seats are currently held by Democrats and 23 by Republicans. Check here to see if your senator’s seat is open this fall.
Who Serves as Your Governor?
Duties: Governors are essentially the chief executives of their respective states. They are the highest-ranking officials on the state level. In addition to being responsible for the appointment or nomination of many high-level executive state roles, signing legislation, and the overall well-being of the state, the governor is also in charge of handling emergencies. The COVID-19 pandemic and the protests that have erupted all over the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death, have highlighted the different ways that emergency powers can be used, up to and including requesting federal manpower. Governors also have the power to issue a stay of execution for people on death row in their state convicted under state laws.
Term Limits: Each state has its own rules and regulations for how long a gubernatorial term lasts and the maximum number of terms allowed. Most states have four-year terms and some type of term limits. New Hampshire and Vermont are unique in that their governors serve two-year terms, but have no term limits. Virginia does not allow consecutive terms for a governor.
Salary: Unlike people elected to Congress, governors’ salaries are not regulated by the federal government. Each state establishes its own parameters as to how governors are compensated. As of 2020, Jane Mills (D-Maine) earns the lowest salary of U.S. governors with $70,000/year. Gavin Newsome (D-California) has the highest salary of U.S. governors with $201,680/year.
What You Should Know: Governors work on a wide range of issues in order to effectively carry out their duties. One issue that governors manage is how to allocate federal dollars. (The type of oversight for such decisions such as votes from other elected state leaders varies by state and some federal funds come with tight restrictions.) For example, many governors utilize federal money to fund programs like Meals on Wheels and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In the case of certain emergencies, as we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, some governors have enacted emergency orders that give them broader power to enforce rules such as wearing masks and requiring social distancing.
Open Governor Seats in the 2020 Election: There are 11 governorships open for the 2020 election. Seven of those states have Republican incumbents (Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia. There are four governors in the Democratic party whose seats are up for grabs (Delaware, Montana, North Carolina, and Washington)