Category Archives: Special ELection

IA-2: Hart Concedes;
NM-1: Dems Nominate

Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa)

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2021 — Former Iowa state senator, Rita Hart (D), withdrew her challenge late Wednesday afternoon, before the House Administration Committee pertaining to Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) six-vote victory in the November election. Also, the New Mexico Democratic State Central Committee met virtually over the past two days in order to choose a congressional nominee to fill the state’s 1st District vacancy. The seat is in special election cycle because Deb Haaland resigned her federal legislative office in order to join the Biden cabinet as Interior Secretary. Details below:

Iowa

In a released statement, IA-2 challenger Hart said, “Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans.”

In actuality, the miniscule victory margin is the first such result of this type since 1984, not in 100 years, when in a similar case the House of Representatives decided in early 1985 that then-Rep. Frank McCloskey (D-IN) was re-elected with a four-vote margin.

The IA-2 result was a point of controversy ever since the new Congress was sworn into office on Jan. 3. Instead of challenging the six-vote margin in the Iowa court system, Hart chose to bring her complaint directly to the House of Representatives. She claimed that Iowa election authorities has not counted 22 legal ballots that would have changed the final outcome. The officials retorted that they rejected the ballots for various reasons of noncompliance with state election laws.

After the body’s internal organization process was completed, the House Administration Committee voted on a 6-3 party line vote to hear Hart’s case. There had been much chatter in the news media and blogosphere during the past two weeks about the Democratic leadership wanting to award the seat to Hart, thus displacing Rep. Miller-Meeks who had been provisionally seated on Jan. 3 pending the outcome of the Hart challenge.

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LA-2 Special Election Tightening

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2021 — The Louisiana special congressional election between two New Orleans Democratic state senators appears to be tightening after the perceived underdog just scored an important endorsement that could help produce a closer than anticipated finish on April 24.

Louisiana state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans)

Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) placed first in the March 20 jungle primary with 36 percent of the vote. Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) was second with 23 percent, just ahead of Baton Rouge community activist Gary Chambers Jr. who posted 21 percent. Because no one reached the majority threshold, the top two finishers, Sens. Carter and Peterson, advanced to the special runoff election scheduled for late April.

Chambers, the third-place finisher, announced Wednesday that he is endorsing Sen. Peterson. With his 23 percent of the vote, Chambers can be a major influence in the runoff election. This is particularly true within the East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes, where he performed well.

Louisiana state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans)

In the Baton Rouge area, for example, meaning both the East and West Baton Rouge parishes (though the West Baton Rouge entity only produced a total of 1,414 votes in the March 20 jungle primary election), Chambers and Sen. Peterson combined to record 65 percent of the original vote as compared to Sen. Carter’s 25 percent.

Also, the Congressional Progressive Caucus organization began running television advertising Wednesday that thanked Sen. Peterson for voting to expand the number of those eligible for Medicaid health benefits.

The outside CPC assistance supports the Peterson campaign strategy. One of her main goals is to identify herself as the more progressive of the two candidates. In this same vein, for example, she draws the distinction between her position and that of Sen. Carter regarding the Green New Deal. His public statements for the program have not been as strongly favorable as Sen. Peterson’s.

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One Down, 4 Special Elections to Go

By Jim Ellis

March 26, 2021 — Though Rep-Elect Julia Letlow’s (R) victory in Louisiana last Saturday completed one special congressional election, four others are still in-cycle and fresh ballot test data was just released from the Texas seat.

Next up on the schedule is the LA-2 double-Democratic runoff between state Sens. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) on April 24. Next, on May 1, voters in Texas’ 6th District will go to the polls to begin the replacement process for the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington). Replacing Biden cabinet members and ex-Reps. Deb Haaland and Marcia Fudge will occur on June 1 and Nov. 2, respectively, in New Mexico and Ohio.

As in Louisiana, the Texas race features the late incumbent’s widow running, but a new poll suggests that Susan Wright’s support is not as deep as Letlow’s in neighboring Louisiana. On Saturday, Letlow, whose late husband, Luke Letlow, passed away three weeks after he won the December 2020 runoff election, scored a landslide 65 percent outright victory over 11 opponents.

In the North Texas race, the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group recently surveyed the 6th District electorate for their client, candidate Lydia Bean (D), during the March 11-16 period and interviewed 500 likely special election voters.

While the results found Wright leading the pack of 23 candidates, she reached only 18 percent support but that was nine percentage points better than her closest opponent, 2018 Democratic congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez.

Freshman state representative and 2018 Republican congressional candidate, Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), the only sitting elected official in the massive candidate field, followed closely behind with eight percent support. Bean, a non-profit organization founder, and former George W. Bush White House aide Brian Harrison were next, posting six percent apiece.

The results suggest that Wright has a clear lead, her advantage is by no means insurmountable and, at this point in the special election cycle, the data is certainly pointing to a pair of candidates advancing into a runoff election.

Under Texas special election procedure, the governor does not schedule the secondary election until it is clear that the runoff is necessary, and the participants chosen. In this case, we won’t know the date of the next election after May 1. It is presumed, however, that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will schedule the runoff in mid to late July.

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Julia Letlow Wins LA-5; LA-2 to Runoff

Julia Letlow (R), widow of Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R) who passed away at the end of last year, easily won Loiusiana’s 5th District special election Saturday.

By Jim Ellis

March 23, 2021 — The two Louisiana special elections turned out as expected on Saturday night but with a slight surprise.

Julia Letlow (R), the widow of Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R), who passed away at the end of last year, easily won the 5th District special election. Her 65 percent outright win over a field of 11 opponents will allow her to assume the office that her husband won in early December but who died from the effects of COVID and heart disease before the new Congress convened.

In the New Orleans-Baton Rouge 2nd District, vacated when Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) resigned from the House to accept a position in the Biden Administration, two Democrats will advance to an April 24 runoff election. Both outcomes were expected, but the margin for second place in the 2nd District was much closer than anticipated.

Letlow had the support of the entire Republican hierarchy while running in a GOP district, from former President Trump and former Vice President Pence, to Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and the Louisiana Republican Party. She also had a huge campaign resource advantage and was expected to exceed the 50 percent mark to win outright. The second-place finisher, Democrat Candy Christophe, fell way back to 27 percent of the vote. No other candidate even exceeded the five percent mark.

Turnout was relatively strong, with 103,609 people voting in the Saturday special election and during early voting. In the pre-election day balloting, Letlow captured 59 percent support, meaning she performed much better in Election Day voting. The total exceeded the Dec. 5 runoff vote that elected Letlow. In that election, 79,306 people voted.

In parish voting, Letlow won 23 of the district’s 24 local parishes, called counties in every other state. The only one she lost, and by just one percentage point, was East Feliciana Parish, but the total vote cast was only from 1,517 individuals. She carried 18 of the 24 parishes with majority support and reached or exceeded the 70 percent threshold in eight localities.

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Special Elections Update: LA Votes

Karen Carter Peterson promotional video.


By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2021 — Five special congressional elections are now on the political calendar, and we see current action in all.

Beginning with the two Louisiana seats, voters went to the polls Saturday in the first round of elections in the state’s 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts.

The 2nd, anchored in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is a Democratic seat left vacant when former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) was appointed to a White House position in the Biden Administration. The northeastern Louisiana Republican 5th CD became vacant when Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R), three weeks after winning the seat in a post-general runoff election, passed away from a heart attack and COVID.

The 2nd District sees 15 Democrats, Republicans, minor party, and Independent candidates all on a jungle primary ballot. The political odds favor two Democratic New Orleans state senators, Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson, advancing to a general election runoff on April 24. The tone of this week’s candidates’ ads, with Sen. Peterson already being attacked, suggest that the special general between Carter and Peterson is already underway.

Prospects were promising that we would see a winner in Saturday’s 5th District race. Though 12 candidates are on the ballot, just one has strong campaign resources and public backing. Julia Letlow (R), wife of the deceased congressman-elect, looks well positioned to exceed the majority support threshold tomorrow night meaning she would claim the seat outright.

Armed with a 9:1 fundraising lead over her closest competitor at the end of February and holding endorsements from former President Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), the Louisiana Republican Party, and the Louisiana Sheriffs of the 5th Congressional District committee, among others, Ms. Letlow appears poised to score a convincing win over a crowded field.

The first poll for the Texas special election was just released. In this 6th District race, vacated because of Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) death from cancer and COVID, a whopping 23 candidates are vying to replace the late incumbent. The first election is May 1. If no one receives majority support, which is likely, a runoff will be scheduled after the primary voters officially determine the final results.

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