By Jim Ellis
Feb. 16, 2017 — News is breaking in three of the impending special congressional elections:
In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has scheduled the special election to replace newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for April 18, with a run-off to follow on June 20. Already 15 candidates have announced for the seat.
For special elections, Georgia employs the same system as we’ve previously described when discussing the California race. That is, a jungle primary will be conducted on April 18, with all candidates placed on one ballot. If no one secures a majority the top two finishers, irrespective of political party affiliation, will advance to the special general election in late June.
Democrats intend to make a push for this seat, which should become the most competitive of the five special congressional elections. President Trump only carried this district 48.3 – 46.8 percent in November, a major downturn for the GOP in what is typically a reliably Republican seat.
The Democratic leadership prefers investigative filmmaker Jon Ossoff as their candidate. Republicans look toward former Secretary of State Karen Handel, state Sen. Judson Hill, former state senator and retired Army Reserve officer Dan Moody, and former Georgia Republican Party chairman and Trump campaign official Bruce LeVell, among others.
Turning to Kansas, the local Wichita area Democratic committee surprised most observers in choosing little-known attorney James Thompson as the party’s special election nominee to face Republican nominee Ron Estes, the state’s treasurer. Thompson defeated the early favorite, former state Treasurer Dennis McKinney.
A big negative for McKinney was losing to Estes in 2010, while sitting as the incumbent treasurer. Estes defeated McKinney by 17 points statewide and, more importantly, 25 points in the 4th District. Apparently the majority of local delegates thought the party would be in better position fielding a fresh face rather than a candidate who had already lost badly to Estes.
The Kansas special election is April 11. The winner replaces former Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Wichita), who is now CIA Director.
Twenty-three candidates (19 Democrats, one Republican, a Libertarian, a Green, and an Independent) filed papers before last week’s filing deadline in California’s 34th Congressional District special election. Now Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) must verify that all have met the minimal criteria to become an eligible candidate. The special jungle primary is scheduled for April 4. Since it’s a virtual certainty that none of the candidates will reach 50 percent with so many names on the ballot, the top two finishers – more than likely, two Democrats in this district – will advance to a June 6 special general election.
Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) has already won the California Democratic Party endorsement, which could matter greatly as he wades through a crowded field of political contenders. The endorsement is annotated on the ballot, so every voter will see that Gomez is the officially endorsed party candidate.
Former Los Angeles City Council aide Sara Hernandez (D) is aggressively attempting to position herself for a run-off slot. She became the first candidate to begin advertising – a local LA cable TV buy that predictably attacks President Trump – and is reportedly doing well on the early fundraising circuit.
The 34th District is the downtown Los Angeles CD and is heavily Democratic. President Trump scored only 10.7 percent here in November, suggesting that the Republicans have no chance of converting this seat. CA-34 is 64 percent Hispanic and 46 percent of the constituency hails from a foreign country.
Former Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) resigned the seat when he was confirmed as the California attorney general, replacing Kamala Harris (D) upon her election to the Senate.