Category Archives: House

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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Louisiana Special Election Poll Suggests at Least One District Runoff

Louisiana congressional districts


By Jim Ellis

March 15, 2021 — Two of the upcoming special elections to fill vacancies in the US House will occur next weekend, and a new Louisiana poll suggests one of them will likely advance two candidates into a secondary April 24 runoff election.

The Edgewater Research/My People Vote survey tested 651 likely voters in Louisiana’s vacant 2nd Congressional District over the March 2-7 period in preparation for the March 20 jungle primary election. A likely voter for purposes of this study were people who have voted at least seven times in the last 10 statewide elections.

The pollsters, however, only named three of the 15 candidates on the ballot in testing the electorate. The query asked if the respondent is supporting “Troy Carter, Karen Carter Peterson, Gary Chambers, or someone else.”

The names refer to state Sens. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans), and Baton Rouge community activist Gary Chambers. No Republican was named in the survey even though author Claston Bernard and Greg Lirette have raised more money than Chambers, for example. The latter man, however, is well known as an activist who attracts a great deal of attention in the Baton Rouge media market.

The ballot test found the electorate breaking 35-24-11 percent in favor of Sen. Carter, with Peterson and Chambers following, respectively. The response for “someone else” was 16 percent. Sen. Carter, however, leads Sen. Peterson only 39-35 percent among Democratic voters, the dominant party in this district that captures most of the city of New Orleans and meanders northwest to include heavily African American Baton Rouge precincts.

The 2nd District basically divides into just two races: black and white. Of the citizen voting age population, blacks account for 61.5 percent and whites 31.7 percent. All other race categories comprise the remaining 6.8 percent of the demographic composition.

Within the black vote, Sen. Carter leads Sen. Peterson, 40-26 percent with Chambers getting 11 percent and someone else 8 percent. Within the white vote, the contest is much closer. In this case, the someone else category places first at 28 percent with Sen. Carter then topping Sen. Peterson in a much tighter 23-20 percent spread. Chambers had 10 percent support in the white category.

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Will Miller-Meeks’ 6-Vote Win Stand?

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks

March 12, 2021 — Yesterday, the House Administration Committee met virtually to consider Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) motion to dismiss the Federal Contested Elections Act challenge from Democrat Rita Hart in relation to the state certified results of the 2020 congressional election in Iowa’s 2nd District. The committee voted 6-3 on partisan lines to postpone the dismissal action.

To review, Rep. Miller-Meeks’ victory margin is only six votes of 394,800 ballots cast. Hart is challenging the results before the House Administration Committee claiming that 22 ballots, enough to overturn the final result, were legal but not counted.

Yesterday’s hearing was procedural in that committee chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) moved to postpone hearing the dismissal motion in order for the members to fully consider Hart’s argument of contestant. Rep. Lofgren indicated that both the Iowa Republican and Democratic Parties, along with Iowa election officials, will be sent identical questionnaires to fully investigate the matter. This means we can expect a much longer process to fully examine the contested ballots, allow testimony, and review the Iowa recount process.

Committee Minority Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) countered, indicating that the Iowa officials have twice counted the votes and, as committee member Bryan Steil (R-WI) reported, recount boards in all 24 counties that form the 2nd District – three member panels comprised of a Miller-Meeks’ appointed member, a Hart appointed member, and a county appointed member – all agreed on the final totals in each local entity.

Davis further explained to the committee members and listening audience that Hart, a former Iowa state senator and 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor, had eschewed the available legal process, which is to petition the Iowa court system. Davis said he concludes Hart made the decision to come directly to the House because she knew the courts would reject her legal arguments.

The Iowa recount process changed the original totals. The first reported outcome revealed a 44-vote Miller-Meeks margin. It then dropped to 30 votes during the recount and Scott County (Davenport), the district’s largest entity, reduced the number even further culminating in the current six-vote final result that the Iowa secretary of state certified as official, with which the bipartisan Iowa Election Canvass Board unanimously concurred. On Jan. 3rd, the House voted to provisionally seat Miller-Meeks until the Hart challenge is resolved.

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Biden-Trump Swings in 2020

By Jim Ellis

March 9, 2021 — The Daily Kos Elections website completed their analysis of the congressional districts that changed the most when comparing the 2020 presidential vote performance to that of 2016. The list is divided into the top 25 districts from two categories, those that swung the most to Joe Biden from Hillary Clinton and the seats where Donald Trump improved to the greatest degree when compared to his 2016 showing.

Perhaps the more interesting chart is the Trump improvement calculations, because every one of the top 25 D to R swing districts has a substantial minority population, particularly Hispanic. In fact, in these 25 CDs, the average Hispanic population figure is 59.8 percent, and we see a mean average improvement swing of 12.3 percent for Trump in 2020 with a median of 11.5 percent when compared with his 2016 standing in these districts.

DISTRICT | WINNER  |   HOUSE 2020 % | PRES. 2020 % | HOUSE WINNER | HISPANIC %
FL-26 Trump   52-47 52-47 Gimenez 68.6
FL-25 Trump   61-38 Unopposed Diaz-Balart 75.8
TX-34 Biden   52-47 55-42 Vela 83.7
FL-27 Biden   51-48 51-49 Salazar 70.4
FL-24 Biden   75-24 76-20 Wilson 37.0
TX-28 Biden   52-47 58-39 Cuellar 77.4
NY-15 Biden   86-13 89-11 Torres, R. 66.1
TX-15 Biden   50-49 50-48 Gonzalez 81.2
CA-51 Biden   67-31 69-32 Vargas 70.1
CA-40 Biden   77-21 73-27 Roybal-Allard 87.6
TX-29 Biden   66-33 71-27 Garcia 77.1
NY-7 Biden   82-17 85-14 Velazquez 41.8
CA-44 Biden   78-19 68-32* Barragan 70.0
CA-29 Biden   74-24 57-43* Cardenas 68.7
NY-14 Biden   73-26 72-27 Ocasio-Cortez 49.1
NY-13 Biden   88-11 91-8 Espaillat 54.5
CA-19 Biden   70-28 72-28 Lofgren 40.8
FL-23 Biden   58-41 58-42 Wasserman-Schultz 35.5
CA-34 Biden   81-17 53-47* Gomez, J. 64.3
TX-9 Biden   76-23 75-22 Green, A. 38.5
NY-6 Biden   62-37 68-32 Meng 19.2
CA-35 Biden   65-33 69-31 Torres, N. 70.0
CA-46 Biden   64-33 69-31 Correa 66.4
NJ-8 Biden   73-26 74-25 Sires 54.4
PA-2 Biden   70-29 72-28 Boyle 27.9

* Faced another Democrat in general election
• Avg. Swing 12.3 | Median 11.5 | Average Hispanic percent: 59.8%


Biden Swing

Obviously, President Biden still won all but two of these districts, and the vast majority with overwhelming percentages. Even so, the fact that so many of the Hispanic districts were giving former President Trump a double-digit vote total increase is significant, nonetheless. This could be a positive 2020 presidential campaign after-effect upon which the Republican Party can build.

As you will see similarly in the districts below that swung significantly to Biden, only one of the Trump improvement seats performed differently at the House level when compared to that same electorate’s presidential vote. The one CD of the 25 swings that voted Biden for president and a Republican for House was Florida’s 27th District as Maria Elvira Salazar (R) upset incumbent Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Miami).

Of the districts that showed the most significant gain for Trump we look to South Texas. This contrasts greatly with the vote changes in North Texas. As we can see, ex-President Trump showed significant improvement in all of the Texas-Mexican border districts.

The district with the sharpest Trump swing was Florida’s 26th District, with a 21.9 percent factor. The lowest of the 25 were New Jersey’s 8th and Pennsylvania’s 2nd CDs, both with a 7.0 percentage improvement for the Republican former president.

The chart immediately below shows the top 25 districts that produced the sharpest swing for the race winner, President Biden. Remember, the 2016 Democratic number was that of Hillary Clinton.
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