Tag Archives: Rep. Chris Collins

Special Elections Update

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 1, 2019 — Four seats are now vacant in the House, each headed to a special election prior to the regular cycle calendar, and action is beginning to occur.

• CA-25: Rep. Katie Hill, Resigned — Gov. Gavin Newsom will call a special election to replace the scandal-tainted Rep. Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale), and it is highly likely that either the special primary, or (and probably more likely) the general will be set concurrently with the California presidential primary on Super Tuesday, March 3.

Rep. Hill unseated then-Rep. Steve Knight (R) in 2018, and it appears the former congressman will become a candidate in the special election. It is unlikely that he will be the lone Republican, however. Lancaster City Councilwoman Angela Underwood-Jacobs (R) was already in the race planning to challenge Hill. It is likely that she will remain.

Former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopolous, who was a major target of the Russia investigation, is already an announced candidate. Defense contractor Mike Garcia is also a pre-resignation announced candidate and will likely remain. And, we will probably see others come forward as well.

Democrats were beginning to coalesce around freshman state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall/Santa Clarita) but now state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) is beginning to sound like a candidate. The 25th is a politically marginal district, so this special election campaign promises to be highly competitive.

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Open Seat Round-up

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 31, 2019 — With six US House seats coming open in October, it’s a good time to re-set where the incumbent-less districts stand for the next election.

To review the half-dozen October happenings in this regard, in consecutive order Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced her retirement, Elijah Cummings (D-MD) passed away, Francis Rooney (R-FL) declared that he would not seek re-election, Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) decided not to make another congressional run in order to concentrate on her presidential campaign, Katie Hill (D-CA) resigned in scandal, and Greg Walden (R-OR) released his statement saying he will not seek a 12th term in office.

Within the aggregate group of 30 opens, we now see four vacancies. In addition to Rep. Cummings passing away and Hill resigning, two more seats are also headed to special elections because of resignations. Those lie in New York (Chris Collins-R) and Wisconsin (Sean Duffy-R).

Two of the four have election calendars. The MD-7 seat will see a primary on Feb. 4 with a general April 28. The WI-7 district will hold a primary on Feb. 18, and a special general on May 12. Govs. Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Gavin Newsom (CA) will soon set special voting calendars in their states. Gov. Cuomo, who let the 25th District sit vacant for almost a year in 2018 after Rep. Louise Slaughter passed away, chose to fill the seat concurrently with the regular election cycle. The governor has already said he would like to follow the same course this year, but the law won’t allow such a long vacancy.

At this point, the Wisconsin and New York seats should remain Republican, but the GOP has a spotty record in holding NY districts in special elections including this 27th District (then numbered 26), which went Democratic that last time it went to special election in 2011. The Maryland seat will remain Democratic.

Though the House opens now reach 30 seats, a relative few are seriously in play for the districts’ next election. Of the majority Democrats’ nine open seats, seven are considered safe and the next Democratic nominee is a lock to win in each circumstance. For the GOP, which currently holds 21 of the 30, a total of 13 will assuredly elect another Republican.

In terms of competitive seats, the Democrats only risk two. The Hill seat in California is marginal and certainly competitive in an open special election. Democrats have carried the district in two of the last three presidential elections, but Republicans have won three of the four congressional elections in the current configuration during the decade.

The other is IA-2, the seat from which Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) is retiring. The 2nd District is generally reliably Democratic, but President Trump carried it in 2016, 49-45 percent. Democrats are coalescing behind former state Senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart as their candidate. It is here where former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling (R), hopes to make a serious run at an upset. First, however, he must clear the GOP primary and faces state Sen. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) who will be making her fourth run for the US House.

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Florida Rep. Rooney to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Florida Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples)

Oct. 23, 2019 — Two-term Florida Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples) announced over the weekend that he would not seek election to a third term next year, thus FL-19 becomes the 27th open House seat for the current cycle.

Three of the open seats are vacant, meaning they will each go to special election to fill the balance of their respective terms. The trio of districts are: MD-7 (the late Elijah Cummings-D), NY-27 (Chris Collins-R), and WI-7 (Sean Duffy-R). The Wisconsin election calendar has been set for a Feb. 18 special primary and May 12 general. Maryland election law dictates that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announce the 7th District special election calendar on or before Oct. 28. No calendar announcement has yet been made for the New York situation.

Rooney, despite serving in Congress for only a brief while, had been on the unofficial retirement watch list because he had raised only $6,600 cycle-to-date for his next campaign and is at odds with his party on several issues. The congressman is independently wealthy, so the low total was not solely an indication of his intention since he has the wherewithal to self-fund his campaigns. Rep. Rooney had been a Republican critic of President Trump, took the no corporate PAC contribution pledge, and indicated he may support the impeachment inquiry.

Florida’s 19th District is a safely Republican southwest Florida seat. President Trump carried the district, 60-37 percent, while Mitt Romney won here with a similar 60-39 percent margin. In his two elections, Rep. Rooney racked up victory percentages of 62 (2018) and 66 percent (2016).

In a similar configuration over four previous terms, then-Rep. Connie Mack IV (R) averaged 65 percent of the vote. And, after Mack left the House to run for the Senate, Republican Trey Radel, who a year later would be convicted for cocaine possession and forced to resign, scored a 62 percent victory in 2012. GOP businessman Curt Clawson followed with win margins of 67-29 percent in the 2014 special election, and then 65-33 percent in the regular election cycle before choosing not to seek re-election in 2016.

Therefore, it is probable that the next Republican primary winner will summarily be elected to the House in November, 2020. The 19th District contains two-thirds of Lee County along with approximately half of Collier County. Its main population centers are the Cape Coral, Ft. Myers, Naples, and Marco Island localities.

New York’s Rep. Nita Lowey to Retire

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) is retiring.

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 14, 2019 — House Appropriations Committee chair, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who was first elected in 1988 and is now 82 years old, announced that she will not seek re-election next year. She joins Reps. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) and Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia) as New York members not seeking re-election. Rep. Collins has already resigned his seat.

Her released statement thanked the constituency for her long congressional career but did not cite any particular reason for the decision to leave the House when the 116th Congress adjourns.

Her 17th District, which includes all of Rockland and just over 40 percent of Westchester counties, will become the 25th open seat for this current election cycle. The congresswoman is now the sixth Democrat to either retire or run for another office.

Lowey’s retirement will ignite a pair of interesting political battles. Internally, and assuming the Democrats hold the House majority in the 2020 election, the congresswoman’s leaving potentially ignites a four-way succession contest for Appropriations Committee chair. Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-New Haven) immediately announced that she will be a candidate for chair once Lowey’s decision to leave the House became public.

In addition to DeLauro, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who ranks sixth in House seniority and second among Democrats, is likely to seek the position as well as Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and David Price (D-NC).

Since it’s been so long for a Westchester County congressional seat to open – Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) represents the county’s other half and was also first elected in 1988 – we can expect a very crowded Democratic primary with many candidates vying to succeed Lowey.

The state senators who represent most of the 17th are David Carlucci (D-Ossining) and Pete Harckham (D-Peekskill). The seat touches 10 Assembly districts, seven of which Democrats represent versus three that Republicans control.

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Collins Resigns; Thornberry to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY)

Oct. 2, 2019 — Reportedly planning to plead guilty to an insider trading charge after being indicted last year, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) resigned his seat in the House, officially informing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) Monday of his intentions.

Despite having an indictment hanging over his head, Rep. Collins won a close re-election in NY-27 — normally a safe Republican upstate district that occupies all or parts of eight counties in the region’s rural area east of Buffalo and south of Rochester.

The congressman defeated Democrat Nate McMurray, a Grand Island town supervisor, by a razor-thin 49.1 – 48.8 percent spread, a margin of just 1,087 votes. Clearly the indictment played a major role in the outcome being so close, as Collins’ re-election percentages were an identical 67.2 percent in 2014 and 2016 after unseating then-Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) in the 2012 general election.

Anticipating an open seat or a weakened Collins seeking re-nomination, several Republicans had already announced their intentions to run. Two state senators, Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) and Rob Ortt (R-Lockport), are already in the race as is attorney and former town judge Beth Parlato. The 2018 Democratic nominee, McMurray, is also a declared candidate.

It is likely that other Republicans will jump into either the special election, if it is called, or the regular election now that it is an open seat race. It is also likely that Democratic leaders will make sure that McMurray has a clean shot for re-nomination in order to make him as strong as possible against a different GOP nominee.

The New York state primary is scheduled for June 23. The eventual GOP nominee should begin as a favorite to hold the seat.
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