June 3, 2015 — Alcorn County Prosecuting Attorney and Iraq War veteran Trent Kelly (R), as expected, easily won the northern Mississippi special MS-1 congressional election last night to succeed the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R). The three-term congressman passed away in early February.
Kelly racked up approximately 70 percent of the vote against former Jackson mayoral aide Walter Zinn, Jr, (D). He won the endorsement of Rep. Nunnelee’s widow in the May 12 jungle primary helping him qualify for yesterday’s run-off election, and claimed 20 of the district’s 22 counties last night. He will immediately be sworn in, and serve the remainder of the current term. Rep-Elect Kelly will assuredly seek a full two-year term in the regular 2016 cycle.
The 1st District occupies Mississippi’s northern quadrant and houses the south Memphis (TN) suburbs, and the Tupelo and Columbus areas. Special election turnout unofficially tallied 98,254 voters, but the final canvass could produce totals closer to 100,000.
Zinn had little chance. With virtually no money, in a next to hopeless political minority, and spending his career in politics well away from the 1st District in the state’s capital city of Jackson, it was a foregone conclusion that Kelly would be victorious when he topped a field of 11 other Republican candidates in the May vote.
Only one House vacancy remains, that in IL-18, the seat then-Rep. Aaron Schock (R) resigned in March. A replacement will be chosen in September. The House now stands at 246 Republicans, 188 Democrats, with the one vacancy.
June 2, 2015 — The vacant northern Mississippi congressional district (Tupelo, Columbus, Memphis suburbs) will be filled today, as special run-off participants Trent Kelly (R) and Walter Zinn, Jr. (D) do battle in the secondary election.
The race shouldn’t be much of a contest. The 1st CD is heavily Republican and campaign resources greatly favor Kelly, the Alcorn County Prosecuting Attorney and Iraq War veteran who outpaced 11 other Republicans in the May 12 jungle primary. Zinn is the lone Democrat who filed, hence he was able to place first in the badly fractured field despite spending only $9,000 on his primary campaign effort.
Harper Polling released a survey of the race (May 28; 509 likely MS-1 voters), finding Republican Kelly with a big lead, as predicted. According to HP, the local Republican prosecutor would top the former Jackson Democratic mayoral aide 54-37 percent. This should translate into a victory margin approaching, if not breaking, the 60 percent threshold.
The district was left vacant in early February when three-term Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R) passed away. Filling this district tonight will mean only one vacancy remains, that being the IL-18 seat of resigned-Rep. Aaron Schock (R) who won’t be replaced until September.
Tonight’s winner fills the remainder of the current term and is eligible to seek re-election in the 2016 regular cycle.
May 13, 2015 — Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-3), who began talking about running for Senate even before Sen. Dan Coats (R) announced that he wouldn’t seek another term, officially declared his candidacy Monday. He joins former Indiana Republican Party chairman and Coats’ aide Eric Holcomb in the field of candidates.
Though Sen. Coats made public his intention to retire at the end of March, the field of potential successors has been slow to form. Immediately, all but three of the nine-member House delegation indicated interest in the race but, until yesterday, none had moved into the statewide contest.
At this point, most of the delegation members have declined to run. The two who have not yet closed the door on a potential Senate bid are representatives Todd Rokita (R-IN-4), who is unlikely to enter, and Todd Young (R-IN-9), who well could oppose Stutzman and Holcomb.
No Democrat has yet come forward. Party leaders hope to recruit former senator and governor, Evan Bayh, back into elective politics, but this is likely wishful thinking on their part. Upon leaving office five years ago, Sen. Bayh made public statements about being less than enamored with the way Congress was operating, and it is fair to say the situation has deteriorated since. Continue reading >
May 6, 2015 — The season’s first special election concluded last night in New York’s 11th Congressional District with little fanfare as Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan (R) easily rode to a landslide victory in former Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R) vacated seat. Grimm resigned at the beginning of the term after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion.
The election drew only 39,867 voters for an abysmally low turnout percentage of 9.8 percent. Donovan, who was viewed as the prohibitive favorite here since the special election cycle began, captured 59 percent of the vote compared to New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile’s (D-Brooklyn) 40 percent. Green Party nominee James Lane picked up the final 1.3 percent, or 521 raw votes. Donovan carried the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party ballot lines, while Gentile held the Democratic and Working Families Party designations.
The Democrats barely contested this special election, vowing to wage a real campaign in this Staten Island-Brooklyn domain during the regular 2016 election cycle under what will likely be a full turnout model in the presidential year. Now that representative-elect Donovan will be the incumbent, doing so becomes more unlikely, however, as the national Democrats will move toward more logical targets elsewhere. Continue reading >
April 1, 2015 — Candidate filing closed this past Friday for the MS-1 special election, which Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s (R) death made necessary. Twelve Republicans and one Democrat will be on the May 12 Mississippi jungle primary ballot. With so many candidates qualifying, a June 2 run-off between the top two finishers is a virtual certainty, since it would be very difficult for any one contender to attract a majority of the vote.
One prominent name missing from the list is former Rep. Travis Childers (D), who won the last special election held here, and then claimed a full term later in 2008. He was unseated in 2010, and then lost to Sen. Thad Cochran (R) last November in a statewide general election contest. Though it is always possible lightning could have again struck for him in a special election, the chance of Childers holding this strongly Republican northern Mississippi district for a long duration is an unlikely one, at best. Hence, his decision not to run.
The lone Democrat running is former Jackson mayoral aide Walter Zinn. His prospects of qualifying for the run-off are somewhat realistic because the Republican vote will be split literally a dozen ways. His prospects are thin, however, to capture the seat in the run-off. Aside from being a prohibitive underdog against a Republican in a one-on-one battle, Zinn’s Jackson political base is not even in the 1st District. Continue reading >