Category Archives: House

California’s Strange Special Election in District 22 Held Yesterday

By Jim Ellis

Connie Conway (R)

April 6, 2022 — Voters in California’s Central Valley region have had their special congressional election wrap up as of yesterday. Former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) resigned at the beginning of this year, and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) scheduled a special election to fill the balance of the term even though this seat will disappear in the next Congress.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission members significantly re-drew the Fresno area, and Nunes’ 22nd District largely became the new 5th CD that stretches northerly from the Fresno area’s northeast sector to the outer Sacramento suburbs. The new 5th is strongly Republican, and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) sought re-election from this district. Had Nunes wanted to remain in Congress, this is the seat where he would have run.

Such being the case, the current 22nd District that former President Trump carried 52-46 percent and where Rep. Nunes averaged 61.7 percent of the vote during the five elections of the past decade, is split into four different seats, meaning last night’s special election winner really has no place to run in the general election. Therefore, the new member will serve just the balance of this year and retire.

Despite the lack of a congressional future, the 22nd District special drew four Republicans and two Democratic contenders. The race leader as of this writing is former state Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway (R), who had said from the beginning that she would only serve the remainder of this term. She currently leads the race with 34.8 percent. It will take a week before results can be finalized due to mail-in votes that still need to be tabulated.

Another Republican, Elizabeth Heng, who held Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) to a 57-43 percent victory in the current 16th CD (Rep. Costa is seeking re-election this year in the new 21st District), was also in the race. She was originally talking about running for the full term in the neighboring 13th District, a marginally competitive open seat, but did not file for the regular election.

The other Republican candidates were former FBI agent Michael Maher and retired Navy officer Matt Stoll. The Democrats were Lourin Hubbard, an operations manager at the California Department of Water Resources, and graduate student Eric Garcia.

In this special election, all of the candidates were placed on one ballot. If a contender received a majority of 50 percent plus one vote, said individual is elected outright and would be sworn into the House upon the California Secretary of State officially certifying the election. If no one received a majority, the top two finishers, regardless of party preference, would advance to a special general election run concurrently with the regular California primary election on June 7; with Conway’s tally currently standing at just 34.8 percent of the vote, it looks like things are headed that way.

Though the seat will be occupied for only a short time, this is an important election. Five seats are currently vacant, the number increasing with the resignations of Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Filemon Vela (D-TX) last week on March 31, and four are from the Republican side. This reduces the Republican conference temporarily to 209.

If the Republican party holds the 22nd CD in this special election cycle, and a Republican candidate ulitimately will likely win, the conference would grow to 210, with the majority Democrats at 221. If the Republicans hold the AK-at large, MN-1, and NE-1 seats in their own scheduled special elections later in the year, the party will again hold 213 seats. Democrats, on the other hand, look to drop to 220 when Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) resigns.

It is possible we will not see special elections in the Texas and Florida Democratic vacancies until the regular general election date. It appears that both Govs. Greg Abbott (R-TX) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have the legal leeway to schedule concurrently with the regular general election to fill the Vela and Deutch vacancies.

California’s current 22nd District is comprised of parts of Fresno and Tulare Counties and includes the northeastern portion of Fresno city and the communities of Clovis, Dinuba, Visalia, and Tulare.

Sarah Palin to Run for House

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, is now running for the open at-large US House seat in The Last Frontier state.

By Jim Ellis

April 5, 2022 — Former Republican vice presidential nominee and ex-Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, filed at Friday’s candidate declaration deadline to enter the special election being held June 11 to replace the late at-large congressman, Rep. Don Young (R-AK).

Along with Palin, 17 others also filed. The state officials will release the qualified list at some point this week. Of the preliminary group, nine are Republican, eight are Independent or from minor parties, and just one, local Anchorage Assemblyman Chris Constant, is a Democrat.

The June 11 special primary will be interesting since it is the first test of Alaska’s new electoral system that places everyone together on a jungle ballot and sends the top four, regardless of party preference, to the special general election. The special primary will be conducted through the mail.

The special general will be run concurrently with the Alaska regular primary election on Aug. 16. Therefore, those casting ballots will both choose a special election winner and nominees for the regular election at the same time, but in two separate votes.

Should no one from the top four reach the 50 percent threshold in the special general election, then the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system is utilized to choose a winner. The voters rank their choices one to four. Without anyone getting majority support, the last-place finisher is eliminated, and those ballots ranking that candidate first are located, and their second choices are added to the candidate totals. This process continues in rounds until one of the candidates obtains majority support. At that point, said candidate is awarded the seat and will serve the balance of the current term.

The filing deadline for the regular primary is June 1, and those running in the special, including Palin, may or may not file for the regular term. At this point, all are expected to do so.

In addition to Palin, some of the key candidates include Dr. Al Gross, who was the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2020 and raised and spent almost $20 million in his unsuccessful challenge of Sen. Dan Sullivan (R). In this special election, Dr. Gross is running as an Independent.

Continue reading

SC Filing Closes; Rep. Rice in Battle

By Jim Ellis

South Carolina’s 7th District contest will be the race to watch on June 14. (Go to Interactive Map on FiveThirtyEight.com)

April 4, 2022 — South Carolina election officials late last week published the 2022 qualified candidates list after filing closed the previous day, and there are several points of note for the June 14 primary election.

While several notable Republican figures were at one point talking about challenging Gov. Henry McMaster in this year’s GOP primary, none did, and he should have an easy re-election campaign not only in the primary, but the general election, too.

McMaster, as the state’s lieutenant governor in 2017, ascended to the governorship to fill the unexpired portion of then-Gov. Nikki Haley’s second term after she resigned to become US Ambassador to the United Nations. This allowed Gov. McMaster to serve the final two years of the Haley term and run for a pair of consecutive stints in his own right. After winning again this past November and serving the next full term, Gov. McMaster will be the longest-serving state chief executive in South Carolina history.

Sen. Tim Scott (R) is poised to win a second full term. He is unopposed in the Republican primary and his strongest general election competition comes from state Rep. Krystle Matthews (D-Ladson). Sen. Scott was originally appointed to the Senate in 2013, serving the four-year balance of Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R) term after the latter’s resignation. Scott was easily elected in his own right in 2016 with a 61-37 percent victory.

In the House races, primary challenges are on tap for Reps. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston), William Timmons (R-Greenville), Jim Clyburn (D-Columbia) and Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach). Reps. Joe Wilson (R-Springdale), Jeff Duncan (R-Laurens), and Ralph Norman (R-Rock Hill) are unopposed for re-nomination. Rep. Duncan has no opposition in June or November.

Rep. Mace is fighting a challenge from 2018 GOP congressional nominee Katie Arrington, a former state representative who is a Trump appointee and has the former president’s endorsement.

Freshman Rep. Timmons faces three GOP opponents, two of whom have run unsuccessfully in other elections. The congressman will face business consultant Ken Hill (D) in the general election.

Rep. Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, sees two Democratic opponents file against him, but he will have little trouble in winning both the primary and general election.

Rep. Rice, on the other hand, has major competition. One of the 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of impeaching then-President Trump over the Jan. 6 situation, the congressman was originally facing a dozen GOP opponents. At the end of the filing process, six would not follow through with their challenge, but six did become official qualified candidates, including his three main competitors, state Rep. Russell Fry (R-Surfside Beach), former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, and Horry County School Board chairman Ken Richardson.

Continue reading

Wrapping Up Redistricting

2022 Louisiana Congressional Redistricting Map (click on above map or here to go to an interactive version: Louisiana)

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2022 — Looking at Wednesday’s redistricting finishing action in Louisiana and beyond, the only outstanding states in terms of drawing new congressional lines are Florida, Missouri, and New Hampshire. A total of 397 of the 435 districts nationwide have been completed, though many will eventually face legal action.

According to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, of the 397 districts, a total of 22 seats rate Even to D+5, with an additional 18 CDs categorized as D+6 through D+9. Of these combined 40 seats that statistics find at least slightly favoring the Democrats, Republicans hold seven. Conversely, the new maps yield a total of 14 Even to R+5 Republican districts, with another 16 rated as R+6 through R+9. In these 30 GOP-leaning seats, Democrats actually hold almost half, for a total of 13.

Members of the opposite party also hold five seats of 10-point partisan spreads or greater. Democrats claim three of the newly configured strong Republican seats in Arizona (Rep. Tom O’Halleran), Maine (Rep. Jared Golden) and Tennessee (Rep. Jim Cooper – retiring), while GOP members hold similarly stout Democratic CDs in California (Rep. David Valadao) and New York (Rep. John Katko – retiring).

It is clear the major competitive 2022 races will come from this aforementioned combined political universe of 75 seats.

Louisiana

For only the third time in state history, the Louisiana legislature voted to override a governor’s veto. The state Senate joined the state House Wednesday in voting to bypass Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) rejection of the new congressional map. The plan largely keeps the 5R-1D delegation split intact, with little change from the current map.

Gov. Edwards vetoed the bill, saying that a second black district can be drawn in and around the major population centers of New Orleans and the capital city of Baton Rouge. The override means the new map becomes law, but lawsuits can certainly be filed against the plan. Unless and until such is done and a court strikes the map down, the Louisiana 2022 redistricting cycle is now completed.

Maryland

The Maryland legislature is complying with the state judge’s schedule to return a less partisan map to the court. Senior Judge Lynne Battaglia last week struck down Maryland’s new congressional map as an “impermissible partisan gerrymander.”

Continue reading

Redistricting News – Ohio; Florida

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2022 — Two long awaited key redistricting situations became clearer Tuesday, as the important electoral states of Ohio and Florida took action. While the Ohio congressional plan may finally be set for this election, the Sunshine State map, while still not close to finalization, is trending toward resolution.

Ohio

Click on map or here to go to: Interactive Ohio Congressional Redistricting map.

The state of Ohio has had the rockiest redistricting path this year, as the legislature and state Supreme Court have been passing and rejecting congressional and state legislative district maps since early in the year.

Last week, the high court, from which people were waiting for a new decision over the congressional map before them for several weeks, surprised the Democratic plaintiffs by informing them that they would have to file a new lawsuit. The justices explained that they had already issued a final ruling on the first map, hence the process would have to begin again with this second installment.

It now appears that the legislature-passed congressional map currently before the court will be used for the 2022 election. The briefing schedule was set for the new lawsuit, but the submission deadline is two months beyond the state’s May 3 primary. Therefore, the new congressional map looks to remain in place for 2022.

The new map would create a swing open 13th District south and east of Cleveland that would likely have been where Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) would have run for re-election had he stayed in the House. On this map, the other member not seeking re-election, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River), would have been paired with GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) in a new strongly Republican 7th District that encompasses the western Cleveland suburbs.

The two incumbents in the most competitive situations are Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) who both will face electorates favoring Democrats.

The lawsuit against the congressional map could well move forward during the latter part of this year, but any changes resulting from related legal action would likely mean a new draw for the 2024 election. After a string of favorable congressional map court rulings for Democrats, the lack of further judicial action in Ohio looks to benefit the Republicans, at least for the short term.

Continue reading