Last week, the voters of Rhode Island’s 17th State Senate district re-elected independent Senator Edward J. O’Neill to the State Senate. See this story. He defeated his only opponent, Democrat Linda Noble, by 54.5%-45.5. Neill had also been elected as an independent in 2008. When he was elected in 2008, he had been the first independent elected to the Rhode Island State Senate since 1964.
Thanks very much to Morgan Daybell for helping me find instances at which independent legislators were elected or re-elected last week. It appears that independents were elected to state legislators in 2010 in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Vermont. We are still waiting to see if one was elected in Colorado. Whether this list ultimately contains 9 states or 10 states, it appears more states elected independents to state legislatures this year than in any previous year in at least sixty years.
Louisiana and Virginia also have independent state legislators, but those two states didn’t have legislative elections this year.