Category Archives: House

LA-2 Special Election Tightening

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2021 — The Louisiana special congressional election between two New Orleans Democratic state senators appears to be tightening after the perceived underdog just scored an important endorsement that could help produce a closer than anticipated finish on April 24.

Louisiana state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans)

Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) placed first in the March 20 jungle primary with 36 percent of the vote. Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) was second with 23 percent, just ahead of Baton Rouge community activist Gary Chambers Jr. who posted 21 percent. Because no one reached the majority threshold, the top two finishers, Sens. Carter and Peterson, advanced to the special runoff election scheduled for late April.

Chambers, the third-place finisher, announced Wednesday that he is endorsing Sen. Peterson. With his 23 percent of the vote, Chambers can be a major influence in the runoff election. This is particularly true within the East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes, where he performed well.

Louisiana state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans)

In the Baton Rouge area, for example, meaning both the East and West Baton Rouge parishes (though the West Baton Rouge entity only produced a total of 1,414 votes in the March 20 jungle primary election), Chambers and Sen. Peterson combined to record 65 percent of the original vote as compared to Sen. Carter’s 25 percent.

Also, the Congressional Progressive Caucus organization began running television advertising Wednesday that thanked Sen. Peterson for voting to expand the number of those eligible for Medicaid health benefits.

The outside CPC assistance supports the Peterson campaign strategy. One of her main goals is to identify herself as the more progressive of the two candidates. In this same vein, for example, she draws the distinction between her position and that of Sen. Carter regarding the Green New Deal. His public statements for the program have not been as strongly favorable as Sen. Peterson’s.

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IA-2 Controversy Heating Up

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks

March 31, 2021 — Iowa Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart’s 2020 election result challenge has recently attracted significant media attention. With rhetoric sharpening on both sides over Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) state certified six-vote victory, let’s examine where the situation stands.

To review, Miller-Meeks held a 47-vote edge on the original canvass, a total that was reduced to just six votes after the state’s full recount. Miller-Meeks was certified the victor based upon the original final total, and then re-certified post recount. The bipartisan Iowa state canvassing board issued both certifications on unanimous votes.

The losing Democratic nominee, former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Hart, filed her challenge directly with the US House instead of turning to the Iowa court system. She claims there are 22 uncounted votes that would change the outcome. The local Iowa election authorities rejected these ballots for various reasons. At the time of commencement for the new Congress, the House seated Miller-Meeks provisionally until the Hart challenge is resolved.

The motion was referred to the House Administration Committee, a panel of six Democrats and three Republicans. California Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is the committee chair. Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) is the ranking Republican member. The committee held one hearing on the challenge and agreed on a partisan roll call vote to conduct an investigation and hear her case. The committee has not voted to remove Rep. Miller-Meeks, nor has the case been sent from the committee to the House floor.

Should the complaint come before the full body, and with a 6-3 Democratic majority on the Administration Committee, chances are strong that the Hart case will advance, the Democratic leadership may have a difficult time in obtaining the votes to remove Miller-Meeks.

They certainly would face a united Republican conference, meaning 211 votes assuming that Miller-Meeks would not be allowed to vote on her own seating. If they move after the April 24 Louisiana special election where a double-Democratic runoff assures them of gaining an extra seat and increasing the majority conference total to 220, they could afford to lose no more than four Democratic votes in order to successfully take the seat from Miller-Meeks and award it to Hart.

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One Down, 4 Special Elections to Go

By Jim Ellis

March 26, 2021 — Though Rep-Elect Julia Letlow’s (R) victory in Louisiana last Saturday completed one special congressional election, four others are still in-cycle and fresh ballot test data was just released from the Texas seat.

Next up on the schedule is the LA-2 double-Democratic runoff between state Sens. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) on April 24. Next, on May 1, voters in Texas’ 6th District will go to the polls to begin the replacement process for the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington). Replacing Biden cabinet members and ex-Reps. Deb Haaland and Marcia Fudge will occur on June 1 and Nov. 2, respectively, in New Mexico and Ohio.

As in Louisiana, the Texas race features the late incumbent’s widow running, but a new poll suggests that Susan Wright’s support is not as deep as Letlow’s in neighboring Louisiana. On Saturday, Letlow, whose late husband, Luke Letlow, passed away three weeks after he won the December 2020 runoff election, scored a landslide 65 percent outright victory over 11 opponents.

In the North Texas race, the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group recently surveyed the 6th District electorate for their client, candidate Lydia Bean (D), during the March 11-16 period and interviewed 500 likely special election voters.

While the results found Wright leading the pack of 23 candidates, she reached only 18 percent support but that was nine percentage points better than her closest opponent, 2018 Democratic congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez.

Freshman state representative and 2018 Republican congressional candidate, Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), the only sitting elected official in the massive candidate field, followed closely behind with eight percent support. Bean, a non-profit organization founder, and former George W. Bush White House aide Brian Harrison were next, posting six percent apiece.

The results suggest that Wright has a clear lead, her advantage is by no means insurmountable and, at this point in the special election cycle, the data is certainly pointing to a pair of candidates advancing into a runoff election.

Under Texas special election procedure, the governor does not schedule the secondary election until it is clear that the runoff is necessary, and the participants chosen. In this case, we won’t know the date of the next election after May 1. It is presumed, however, that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will schedule the runoff in mid to late July.

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2022: Three More House Retirements

By Jim Ellis

March 24, 2021 — A trio of veteran House members announced Monday that they won’t seek re-election in 2022. Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Filemon Vela (D-TX) will retire, while Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) declared his candidacy for the Georgia Secretary of State position.


Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY)

Tom Reed was first elected in 2010 and, at the time of his initial campaign, took a six-term limit pledge. The next election brings him to the end of his originally promised congressional service calendar. Earlier in the year, however, Rep. Reed had been making overtures about running for governor, especially when incumbent Andrew Cuomo (D) began running into political trouble. Rep. Reed even went so far as to begin hiring statewide campaign staff.

Late last week, however, accusations of him being drunk in public and becoming inappropriate with a female lobbyist several years ago began to surface. Originally, Rep. Reed said such accusations were false, but yesterday accompanied his retirement message with an apology for his past behavior.

The Reed retirement decision is likely good news for neighboring GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford). You will remember that she defeated former Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by just 109 votes in the November election, a race that consumed more than three months to determine the final outcome. She originally won the 22nd District in 2016, but lost to Brindisi, then a state assemblyman, in 2018.

New York looks to lose at least one seat in reapportionment, and the Reed and Tenney districts rank 27th and 26th in population, respectively, among the 27 New York congressional seats. With Reed departing, the upstate map becomes much easier to draw in that his seat can be collapsed into hers, presenting Tenney with a larger but very likely more Republican district from which she could seek re-election.

Under this scenario, should it occur as described, her most serious competition would very likely come in the Republican primary instead of the general election. Securing local party support in her new counties would become Tenney’s first step in securing the GOP nomination under such a redistricting projection.


Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)

Rep. Vela’s retirement announcement after what will be five complete terms in the House comes as a surprise. He did, however, experience his tightest election of his five victories in November, but still won with a 55-42 percent majority. President Biden, however, only carried the 34th District, anchored in Brownsville on the Texas-Mexico border, with a 52-48 percent margin, down from 59-38 percent victory spread Hillary Clinton recorded in 2016.

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Julia Letlow Wins LA-5; LA-2 to Runoff

Julia Letlow (R), widow of Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R) who passed away at the end of last year, easily won Loiusiana’s 5th District special election Saturday.

By Jim Ellis

March 23, 2021 — The two Louisiana special elections turned out as expected on Saturday night but with a slight surprise.

Julia Letlow (R), the widow of Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R), who passed away at the end of last year, easily won the 5th District special election. Her 65 percent outright win over a field of 11 opponents will allow her to assume the office that her husband won in early December but who died from the effects of COVID and heart disease before the new Congress convened.

In the New Orleans-Baton Rouge 2nd District, vacated when Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) resigned from the House to accept a position in the Biden Administration, two Democrats will advance to an April 24 runoff election. Both outcomes were expected, but the margin for second place in the 2nd District was much closer than anticipated.

Letlow had the support of the entire Republican hierarchy while running in a GOP district, from former President Trump and former Vice President Pence, to Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and the Louisiana Republican Party. She also had a huge campaign resource advantage and was expected to exceed the 50 percent mark to win outright. The second-place finisher, Democrat Candy Christophe, fell way back to 27 percent of the vote. No other candidate even exceeded the five percent mark.

Turnout was relatively strong, with 103,609 people voting in the Saturday special election and during early voting. In the pre-election day balloting, Letlow captured 59 percent support, meaning she performed much better in Election Day voting. The total exceeded the Dec. 5 runoff vote that elected Letlow. In that election, 79,306 people voted.

In parish voting, Letlow won 23 of the district’s 24 local parishes, called counties in every other state. The only one she lost, and by just one percentage point, was East Feliciana Parish, but the total vote cast was only from 1,517 individuals. She carried 18 of the 24 parishes with majority support and reached or exceeded the 70 percent threshold in eight localities.

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Special Elections Update: LA Votes

https://www.facebook.com/Karen.Carter.Peterson/videos/2521633831472770/Karen Carter Peterson promotional video.


By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2021 — Five special congressional elections are now on the political calendar, and we see current action in all.

Beginning with the two Louisiana seats, voters went to the polls Saturday in the first round of elections in the state’s 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts.

The 2nd, anchored in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is a Democratic seat left vacant when former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) was appointed to a White House position in the Biden Administration. The northeastern Louisiana Republican 5th CD became vacant when Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R), three weeks after winning the seat in a post-general runoff election, passed away from a heart attack and COVID.

The 2nd District sees 15 Democrats, Republicans, minor party, and Independent candidates all on a jungle primary ballot. The political odds favor two Democratic New Orleans state senators, Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson, advancing to a general election runoff on April 24. The tone of this week’s candidates’ ads, with Sen. Peterson already being attacked, suggest that the special general between Carter and Peterson is already underway.

Prospects were promising that we would see a winner in Saturday’s 5th District race. Though 12 candidates are on the ballot, just one has strong campaign resources and public backing. Julia Letlow (R), wife of the deceased congressman-elect, looks well positioned to exceed the majority support threshold tomorrow night meaning she would claim the seat outright.

Armed with a 9:1 fundraising lead over her closest competitor at the end of February and holding endorsements from former President Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), the Louisiana Republican Party, and the Louisiana Sheriffs of the 5th Congressional District committee, among others, Ms. Letlow appears poised to score a convincing win over a crowded field.

The first poll for the Texas special election was just released. In this 6th District race, vacated because of Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) death from cancer and COVID, a whopping 23 candidates are vying to replace the late incumbent. The first election is May 1. If no one receives majority support, which is likely, a runoff will be scheduled after the primary voters officially determine the final results.

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New Mexico Special Called

By Jim Ellis

March 19, 2021 — The latest House vacancy now has a special election calendar.

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) announced yesterday that the candidates from the 1st Congressional District, open since former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque) resigned the seat upon her confirmation as US Interior Secretary, will go to a vote on June 1. This will be the only election for the seat since New Mexico election law allows the political parties to choose special election nominees internally.

Each party will vote through their state central committees. These are political party governing boards where party members elect those serving from each of the state’s 33 counties.

Both major party committees will have many candidates from which to choose. At this point, eight Democrats, including four sitting state legislators, and eight Republicans are announced candidates. Libertarian Aubrey Dunn, a former New Mexico Land Commissioner where he served as a Republican, is also running.

Others still have time to join the race, and we may see a few more since there is no primary and campaigning among a finite group of party insiders is not particularly expensive. Therefore, more than an average number of individuals would be inclined to run since they would perceive the political risk as minimal.

The eventual Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite for the June 1 election. Though the Albuquerque-anchored seat was competitive even at the beginning of the current decade, it no longer appears so. The last Republican to hold the seat was Heather Wilson who vacated to run unsuccessfully for US Senate in 2008. The CD-1 electorate then chose Democrats in the person of Martin Heinrich, now US senator; Michelle Lujan Grisham, now governor; and Haaland, now Interior Secretary; since Wilson left the House.

The district started to turn heavily Democratic with the first Obama presidential campaign in 2008. Obama scored a 60-40 percent victory within the 1st District confines. Four years later, he won 55-40 percent. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried the seat with a 52-35 percent margin, and Joe Biden did best of all, recording a 60-37 percent spread last November.

In the subsequent House races, Heinrich averaged 54 percent in his two congressional elections; Grisham, 61 percent in her three campaigns; and Haaland 59 percent in her pair of victorious congressional contests.

The 1st District house 95 percent of Bernalillo County, and the state’s top city of Albuquerque. CD-1 also contains all of Torrance County and small portions of Sandoval, Valencia, and Santa Fe Counties. The district is basically a majority Hispanic seat with over 49 percent of the citizen population being recorded as such. The non-Hispanic white percentage is just under 41.

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