By Jim Ellis
Nov. 23, 2016 — The Associated Press yesterday projected California Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove/ Sacramento) the winner in the hotly contested CA-7 District campaign, even though there are approximately 43,000 ballots still left to count.
Rep. Bera has pushed his lead to 6,008 votes over Sacramento County Sheriff Doug Jones (R) at the end of the day’s counting. This means, with what will likely be just under 300,000 total votes cast in the district, that Jones would need approximately 57 percent of the outstanding ballots to overtake Bera. While not impossible, the projection appears legitimate considering that Jones has yet to lead this race.
The Bera victory means the Democrats are assured of at least 194 seats in the new Congress. Republicans are guaranteed of 239. The GOP looks to win the second of two Louisiana run-off elections, after wrapping up the first (District 3) on November 8th when two Republicans advanced to the general election run-off. The LA-4 contest is projected to go Republican on Dec. 10.
The aforementioned, notwithstanding, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is still locked into a battle with retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate (D) for the coastal San Diego and Orange County district. But the numbers here also suggest a tight incumbent victory, just as has been called for Rep. Ami Bera to the north.
Currently, with approximately 52,000 ballots left to count, Rep. Issa has expanded his lead to 5,328 votes meaning that Applegate will have to obtain about 55 percent of the outstanding ballots in order to topple Issa. Though Applegate has never been ahead in this race, he does lead the dominant San Diego County vote 53-47 percent, while Issa commands the Orange County portion, 61-39 percent. The congressman’s problem, however, is that only about 5,000 of the uncounted ballots come from Orange County.
If the current trends continue, Rep. Issa should be headed for re-election, but his margin will get considerably tighter. Though up 5,300-plus votes right now, a final Issa victory margin will likely be somewhere in the 2,000, or so, vote range.
If Issa holds, then the final House partisan division will become 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats, a net loss of just six GOP seats from the current Congress.
Minnesota and New Mexico
As previously mentioned several current office holders are at least not ruling out running for, or accepting an appointment to, a different office. Veteran Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) is confirming that he would accept an appointment to replace Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) in the US Senate should the latter be confirmed as the new US Attorney General.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is also reported to be considering a run for the open governor’s position in his state, while Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) is also said to be testing the waters for a run at the Nevada open governor’s chair. Scott would not have to risk his Senate seat if he chooses to run in 2018, but Heller would.
We can also add a few more names of current federal officeholders contemplating gubernatorial bids in their respective states. With 18 governors ineligible to seek another term in 2018, we can be assured that many current office holders will enter open governors’ races.
Based upon statements and news stories released yesterday, several more names are discussion topics. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the rumor, and without denial, that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is considering an open run for governor in her state. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) cannot succeed himself, but Klobuchar running would mean risking her Senate seat.
In New Mexico, possibly three members of the congressional delegation are at least failing to strike down comments that they are potential gubernatorial candidates. Sen. Tom Udall (D) and Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) and Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) are apparently all potential open seat statewide candidates. Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.
We can expect much more speculation from around the country during the next several months.