Category Archives: House

Senate Picture Changes Again

Hawaii

The passing of venerable Senator Dan Inouye (D-HI) has brought yet another vacancy to the Senate. Mr. Inouye, first elected to Congress as Hawaii’s original member of the House of Representatives in 1959, won his first senatorial term in 1962. He served continuously until yesterday. Along with retiring seat-mate Daniel Akaka (D), Hawaii had the most senior delegation in the nation. With Inouye’s death and Akaka leaving in January, the state will now have two freshman senators, losing a combined 70 years in seniority.

The Hawaii seat now becomes the 35th in the 2014 election cycle. Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) will choose an interim appointment who will serve until a 2014 special election is held concurrently with the regular November vote. The winner will then serve the remaining two years of Inouye’s term, meaning the seat will be contested for a full six-year stint in 2016. Should Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) be appointed Secretary of State, as many believe will soon happen, the Massachusetts, Hawaii, and South Carolina seats will all be going to special election in 2014 with a regular election for the same seat following two years later.

South Carolina

In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley (R), surprising many who believed would act after the first of the year, announced that she will appoint Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC-1) to replace outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R). Continue reading>

Canseco Mulling Comeback in Texas

Rep. Quico Canseco (R-TX-23), who lost 46-50 percent to Democratic state Rep. Pete Gallego in November, says he is considering making a comeback in 2014. The 23rd District is a marginal seat that has flipped between the two parties since 2004. The district stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso.

The 23rd is likely to be one of the 2013 redistricting focal points that must be addressed. Because the courts have not approved a permanent Texas map, work either in the state legislature or the jurisdictional judicial panel must occur next year. Now that the seat has a Democratic incumbent, expect more members of this party to be added. It is likely that, at the end of the new redistricting process, Representative-elect Gallego will have a more favorable district from which to seek re-election, particularly if the San Antonio three-judge panel finds itself drawing the new map.

Haley Calls Charleston News Conference

Gov. Nikki Haley

Gov. Nikki Haley

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has scheduled a news conference in Charleston today, leading to speculation that she could tab Charleston Congressman Tim Scott (R-SC-1) as outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint’s replacement. Haley has not indicated who she will appoint, or even if she will address the Senatorial vacancy in her news availability, but she did issue a statement that appears to reject the notion of choosing a caretaker for the position.

Rep. Scott would become the first African-American to represent South Carolina since Reconstruction. He was first elected to the House in 2010, and enjoys strong support from the conservative wing of the party. Such being the case, it is probable that he would have little trouble in claiming the party nomination for the 2014 special election in order to serve the remainder of DeMint’s term. Since the seat is regularly in-cycle in 2016, the special election winner will have to run again in just two years.

Should Scott gain the appointment and solidify himself early for election, then conservative attention could return to finding a primary challenger for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), who will also be on the ballot in 2014. Rep. Scott was just appointed to the House Ways & Means Committee, meaning that this vacancy would likely be filled before the end of January. Should Scott or any other member of the Congressional delegation be chosen, a special election would be called in early 2013 to determine a replacement.

Boustany Wins in La., and Why

Just as Republican state legislative leaders had designed when using their redistricting mapping software early in the year, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7) easily defeated freshman Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) in the new 3rd Congressional District, winning a 61-39 percent victory on Saturday.

The Map

Louisiana dropped a Congressional seat in national reapportionment, and even though the Republicans controlled the redistricting pen, it was obvious that their own party would lose a seat. As is typical of these situations, it was the freshman member who was put in the expendable position.

Prior to reapportionment, Louisiana had seven Congressional seats, six Republican and one Democratic. Since the New Orleans-anchored 2nd CD is a Voting Rights Act protected district, the Republicans had no other choice but to forfeit a seat. Thus, Rep. Landry’s southern state district that legislative leader Billy Tauzin, the former Energy & Commerce Committee chairman, once held was broken into pieces. Even though 7th District incumbent Boustany was placed in the pairing with Landry, the contest was never intended to be fair.

Boustany’s 7th District territory comprised 76 percent of the new 3rd CD, and included the congressman’s home and political base of Lafayette Parish. Landry’s New Iberia Parish domain was also transferred to the new 3rd, but the final configuration only contained 24 percent of his constituency. In the end, the district performed as intended. Each candidate racked up landslide proportions in their current regions, but Landry, having so little familiar turf, could not overcome the programmed disadvantage.

The Results

Boustany carried seven of the district’s 10 parishes, including Lafayette (71 percent), in the range of 68-75 percent. Landry took the three parishes from his former district, also in a similar percentage spread, winning New Iberia with a 70-30 percent margin and the other two parishes with 65 and 67 percent of the vote.

Louisiana also has a unique election system. Using their traditional “jungle” primary format where all candidates appear on the same ballot irrespective of political party affiliation, the state chooses to schedule their qualifying contest concurrently with the national general election. That way a majority of the vote elects the candidate obtaining such, and a run-off between the top two finishers scheduled for early December is held if no one tops 50 percent. Nationally, this makes at least some of Louisiana’s federal races the last to be decided.

Though Boustany finished first on Nov. 6th, his 44 percent total was well short of a majority, hence Saturday’s run-off. Only 19.3 percent of the district’s 500,592 registered voters participated in the run-off election, meaning 96,584 total votes were cast. Of that number, 16,835 people took advantage of the early voting option, meaning 82.6 percent of voters went to the polls this weekend.

The Future

Considering Louisiana’s tradition of not defeating incumbents of either party, Boustany can count on representing this seat at least until the end of the current decade. But, we may not have seen the last of Landry, either. Speculation was beginning to surface that, if he lost this run-off battle, we would see him enter next year’s Senate race against three-term incumbent Mary Landrieu (D). It is widely believed that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) is planning a Senatorial campaign, but this may not matter in the least to the now-defeated Landry.

House Happenings

Some district updates from around the country:

LA-3

The final 2012 House campaign is nearing a conclusion. Under Louisiana law, if no candidate receives a majority of the vote on Election Day, a run-off between the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, is to be held at a later date. That time, in the case of the LA-3 contest between Republican Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7) and Jeff Landry (R-LA-3), is a week from Saturday, Dec. 8. The two incumbents were forced into one southwest Louisiana district because the state lost a seat in reapportionment. Seventy-six percent of the new 3rd District comes from Boustany’s current 7th CD.

A newly released poll, from Red Racing Horses/PMI (Nov. 27-29; 600 likely LA-3 voters), gives Rep. Boustany a 51-33 percent lead over Landry. In the original election among five candidates (three Republicans, one Democrat, and one Libertarian), Boustany placed first with 44.7 percent of the vote versus Landry in second tallying 30.1 percent, a difference of 45,596 votes from 311,393 ballots cast. Boustany looks to be in strong shape in terms of past performance, polling spread, and geography, but a substantially lower Dec. 8th turnout could yield a much closer electoral affair.

IL-2

As predicted, the Illinois legislature just passed a bill that will move the IL-2 special general election to April 9 from March 19. Under Illinois election law, the seat must be filled within 155 of the vacancy occurring, hence the original schedule. But, with local and municipal elections already scheduled for April 9, it made financial and practical sense to combine all of the contests on the one date. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) will sign the bill.

In this case, the general election is a mere formality as the Democratic primary winner will easily hold this seat. The date of that first election, Feb. 26, does not change. It is here that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s replacement will effectively be chosen.

The Democratic field now stands at seven candidates, which includes former US representatives Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11) and Mel Reynolds (D-IL-2), state senators Donne Trotter, Toi Hutchinson and Napoleon Harris, Cook County CEO Robin Kelly, and Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale. Pastor Corey Brooks and Chicago Alderman Will Burns have removed themselves from consideration.


CA-51

Another vacancy has occurred in the House, but only until the new Congress convenes. This means one less vote for the Lame Duck session. Rep. Bob Filner (D) resigned from Congress to officially become mayor of San Diego, a position he won in the November general election. His replacement in Congress, state Sen. Juan Vargas (D), will take office as a regular-term freshman in January.

MO-8

A quirk may soon occur in the race to succeed outgoing Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R). Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has reportedly asked Republican Party leaders to consider appointing him as the replacement Republican nominee. The local county committees from both parties will choose nominees in lieu of a special congressional primary.

The succession process for filling a vacancy in the office of Missouri lieutenant governor is unclear. Therefore, it is quite possible that Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will be able to appoint Kinder’s replacement should the latter be elected to Congress in the yet-to-be-scheduled special general election. If Nixon appoints a member of his own party, which is a certainty, the Democrats would then control every statewide constitutional office despite the state’s strong tilt to the right in federal elections. This would leave Sen. Roy Blunt as the sole Missouri Republican statewide elected official.