Category Archives: House

Capps Out in California;
The Cortez Masto Effect In Nevada

April 10, 2015 — Veteran California Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), aged 77, announced Wednesday that she will not seek re-election to an eleventh term in office next year for her CA-24 seat. The congresswoman entered the House via a special election victory in 1998 after her husband, Rep. Walter Capps (D-CA), passed away suddenly; he was first elected in 1996 but suffered a fatal heart attack at the Washington Dulles Airport less than a year after winning his seat. Lois Capps finished her husband’s term and has been re-elected ever since.

The 24th District contains Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, along with part of Ventura. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission made this district much more competitive as Capps’ 55 and 52 percent victory margins in the past two elections suggest. The 2001 congressional map created a coastal district for Capps (then numbered CA-23), slanting the seat to the ideological left in order to help the Democratic incumbent hold the seat. Thanks in large part to map construction, Capps had little in the way of challenges throughout the decade.

But it was becoming clearer that Republicans have a chance to convert the new 24th as a direct result of including all of the more conservative San Luis Obispo County in the district. Republican Chris Mitchum, son of deceased actor Robert Mitchum, pulled 48 percent against the congresswoman in the last election despite spending less than one-quarter the amount of money of his opponent. A stronger candidate could possibly have done better perhaps even scored an upset over Capps in what became a very favorable Republican year.
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Déjà vu All Over Again
In Three House Races

April 6, 2015 — Familiarity is already returning to at least three congressional races. Two will be in the form of 2016 re-matches from last November, while a new special election appears to be a walk in the park for a recognizable family member.

TX-23

Last week, former Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) announced that he will seek a re-match with freshman Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes) next year in the Texas swing congressional district that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso.

After this seat was created in a special redistricting during the 1960s, the six TX-23 incumbents prior to Hurd winning in November were all eventually defeated for re-election. This is quite noteworthy when compared to a nationwide electorate that routinely re-elects almost all of its congressmen. Typically, well over 90 percent of House members who seek re-election win.
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Developments in MS-1 Special,
Illinois Senate, Virginia Redistricting

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.
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Murphy Announces in Florida; Schilling on Radar

Florida Senate

As expected, Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) formally announced his US Senate candidacy. Accompanying the public pronouncement were targeted Internet ads to liberal political websites indicating that he is running to “stop the Tea Party”.

Murphy’s reach to the left is intended to secure the liberal base for purposes of capturing the Democratic nomination, thus beginning to pinch Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando), another potential candidate. Murphy has to walk a tightrope, however, moving far enough left in the short term but not so far as to marginalize himself for the general election in what has become America’s quintessential swing state.

The congressman’s ad features a picture of conservative ex-Rep. Allen West (R-FL-22), who Murphy unseated in 2012, with the word “Stopped” stamped across his picture. Next to West’s image is a picture of Sen. Marco Rubio, with the word “Next” affixed to his photo. The final shot shows Murphy above a US Senate banner, and adjacent to a sign-up box. The inference is that Murphy defeating West “stopped” him, and ostensibly running against Rubio means the senator is next in line for defeat.

Rep. Murphy needs to cover his left flank largely because of his more centrist voting record. The National Journal ranks him as the 10th most conservative Democrat in the House. Though this positions him to the left of every Republican, twisting such a statistic before Democratic primary voters would likely portray him in an unfavorable light irrespective of how he votes in the aggregate.
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IL-18: Becoming Clearer … Maybe

Now that Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R) resignation announcement has been absorbed and understood, the list of those who may or may not join the replacement field of candidates is becoming clearer, but the election system itself is not yet finalized.

State Sen. Darin LaHood (R), son of former US Rep. and Transportation Department secretary Ray LaHood (R), is now officially running in the upcoming special election. He enjoys high residual name ID – largely his father’s recognition, because the younger LaHood represents only part of Peoria County and a total of three of the district’s 19 counties – and establishment Republican support.

State Sen. Bill Brady, a former Republican gubernatorial nominee who lost to then-Gov. Pat Quinn (D) by just a percentage point in 2010, will not run, but his brother, Ed Brady, who operates the family home building business, chaired his brother’s gubernatorial campaign, and who formerly worked for Jack Kemp’s 1988 presidential effort, is moving forward with plans to enter the race.
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