By Jim Ellis
Feb. 10, 2021 — Three major events affecting the election process occurred Monday, making it possibly the most significant day to this point in the 2022 election cycle.
NY-22From New York, and rather surprisingly, former Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) conceded the last remaining uncalled 2020 election late Monday afternoon. The move was unexpected because he had filed several appeals to State Supreme Court of Oswego County Justice Scott DelConte’s rulings concerning more than 500 ballots that were either added to the aggregate count or voided.
On Friday last week, Justice DelConte’s ordered the counties that comprise the 22nd District to send their final vote counts to the state Board of Elections for final certification. The districtwide total gave former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) a 109-vote victory margin.
Brindisi was not shy in bashing the local election officials as part of his concession, however. The election administration in seven of the district’s eight counties were often criticized as part of the almost three-month long court proceeding with Justice DelConte even going so far as saying that the officials on several occasions either ignored or outright violated New York election law in their handling, counting, and reporting of the votes.
Oneida County, the district’s largest, came under the heaviest criticism when it was discovered that 2,418 people had fully complied with the registration process, but their documents were never converted into official voter registration status. As a result, these individuals were barred from participating in the 2020 election.
Brindisi stated that, “sadly, we may never know how many legal voters were turned away at the polls or ballots not counted due to the ineptitude of the boards of election, especially in Oneida County.” He said he was conceding because the New York Upstate region needs to “move on” after such a long post-election contestation period.
It is presumed that that state Board of Elections’ commissioners will shortly certify the election and that Tenney will then be sworn into the House for the current term.
As expected, based upon recent political rumors, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) announced yesterday that he will not seek a seventh senatorial term next year. Sen. Shelby was originally elected statewide in 1986 as a Democrat, defeating one-term incumbent Jeremiah Denton (R) in that year’s general election with a 50.3 – 49.7 percent winning margin.
Prior to his Senate election, Shelby served eight years in the US House after completing two four-year terms in the Alabama state Senate. He began his career as a prosecutor for the city of Tuscaloosa. Before the next election he will turn 88 years of age.
Just a day after the 1994 Republican landslide election, Sen. Shelby announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican and has served as a member of the GOP ever since. He is currently the ranking minority member of the Appropriations Committee. He has previously chaired the Appropriations, Banking, Rules, and Intelligence Committees during his long career.
Republicans will be favored to hold the open Alabama seat in the 2022 election, but we can expect a crowded and competitive primary election, which may feature several sitting House members. If Alabama loses a seat in the coming reapportionment, the option of running for the Senate may further entice those affected members.
Sen. Shelby becomes the fourth Republican to announce that he will not seek re-election next year. The other three are Sens. Richard Burr (NC), Pat Toomey (PA), and Rob Portman (OH).
A more dire statement came from north Texas with the announcement that two-term Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) had sadly succumbed to cancer and COVID. He was 67. Rep. Wright won re-election in November to a second term with a 53-44 percent margin in a DFW area district that is becoming more competitive.
Prior to serving in the House, Wright had won election as the Tarrant County Tax Assessor and as a member of the Arlington City Council. He also served former 6th District Congressman Joe Barton (R) as his chief of staff.
After the memorial service, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will call a special election to fill the balance of the term. Under Texas election law, it appears that the vote will likely be scheduled for May 1, meeting the requirement that the process occur on the Uniform Election Day. If no candidate receives majority support at the first election, a runoff will then occur sometime in late June.
In 2018, Wright succeeded his retiring former boss, Rep. Barton, with a 53-45 percent victory margin. The 6th District, which occupies southeastern Tarrant County and all of Ellis and Navarro Counties, is becoming more competitive because of changes in the Ft. Worth area. In fact, in the 2020 election, Wright lost the Tarrant County portion of the district, which is 71 percent of the CD, by a 51-46 percent margin, but recovered with strong margins in Navarro and Ellis to win by just under 30,000 votes.
President Trump saw his victory percentage drop to 51-48 percent here, after carrying the 6th with a 54-42 percent margin in 2016. The declining Republican strength in the area suggests that while the party will still be favored to hold the district, we would expect a more competitive open seat special election battle than what has occurred in past campaigns.
In addition to the TX-6 special election calendar, two Louisiana vacancies will be filled with a voting process beginning on March 20 for the 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) was appointed to a position in the Biden Administration leading to his resignation. Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R) passed away from COVID-19 after his election in the December runoff thus forcing the 5th to its current special election status.
As we know, two more House members, Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Deb Haaland (D-NM), were also appointed cabinet secretaries and their seats will be scheduled for special elections upon receiving Senate confirmation for their new positions.