Category Archives: House

TX-6: Rep. Wright’s Widow to Run

By Jim Ellis

The late Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) is sworn-into Congress Jan. 3, 2021 by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) as Wright’s wife, Susan Wright, holds the Bible. Rep. Wright, 67, had been hospitalized with COVID-19; Susan Wright also had been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19. (Photo/Facebook)

Feb. 24, 2021 — The Texas Tribune newspaper broke the story this week that Susan Wright, widow of deceased Congressman Ron Wright (R-TX), will announce her candidacy as soon as this week for the yet unscheduled special election to succeed her late husband.

Ms. Wright will be the second recent widow running this year. Rep-Elect Luke Letlow’s death has led to a March 20 Louisiana special election in that state’s northeastern 5th District. Julia Letlow (R), the late-congressman-elect’s wife, is a candidate in that race and the favorite to prevail.

In US history, 39 widows have succeeded their late husbands in the House, and another eight in the Senate. One such widow, Doris Matsui (D-CA), is currently serving her ninth congressional term.

A large Republican potential field of candidates was thought to be building for the Texas special election, but with Susan Wright’s intention on becoming a candidate, that may block some of the local officials from the race. Freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), who opposed Mr. Wright in the 2018 election and forced him into a runoff, and Katrina Pierson, the former Trump campaign spokeswoman, remain likely candidates, however.

At least two Democrats, 2018 congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez and school district official Shawn Lassiter, have announced their candidacies and both are likely to remain in the race. The 2020 party nominee, Stephen Daniel, has also not ruled out running.

Now that the congressman has been laid to rest, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will schedule the special election. The most likely date will be May 1st, in order to conform with the Uniform Election Day, which hosts local elections from around the state. All 6th District candidates will be on the same ballot and if any one candidate receives majority support, that individual will be elected outright. Otherwise, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election that will be part of Abbott’s scheduling pronouncement. Assuming a May 1 special election, the secondary runoff would occur in late June or early July.

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Assessing The Cross-Voting Districts

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 23, 2021 — The Daily Kos Elections website staff have just completed the calculations they perform after every presidential election: that is, determining how all 435 congressional district electorates voted for president, and then cross-referencing that result with their US House vote.

In the 2020 election, they find that more than 96 percent of the districts voted for the same party’s candidate for President and US House, thus leaving 16 in the “cross-district” category. Nine of the 16 voted for President Biden but then chose a Republican House member. In seven others, the electorates backed former President Trump but reverted to the Democrat’s column for their US House Representative.


The districts that went for Biden for President
and a Republican for House are:

• CA-21: President Biden: 54.4% – David Valadao (R): 50.5%

It’s not a surprise to see this Bakersfield-Fresno district on the cross-district list. When Valadao first represented the seat, the CD was either the first or second-most Democratic seat in the nation to elect a Republican congressman.

• CA-25: President Biden: 54.0% – Rep. Mike Garcia (R): 50.0%

The more extraordinary vote here was Rep. Garcia overcoming a strong Biden vote in a district that has been trending Democratic for the past several elections. Hillary Clinton also won here with a 50-44 percent margin four years earlier. Garcia survived the 2020 election by a mere 333 votes. This district is likely to change significantly in redistricting.

• CA-39: President Biden: 54.1% – Young Kim (R): 50.6%

Republican Kim returned this Orange/LA County seat to the GOP column after a term under Democratic representation. The voters here also went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 with a 51-43 percent spread even while simultaneously re-electing then-Rep. Ed Royce (R-Yorba Linda), 57-43 percent.

• CA-48: President Biden: 49.7% – Michelle Steel (R): 51.1%

The coastal Orange County district somewhat returned to its Republican roots when the electorate swung back to Republican Michelle Steel after electing Democrat Harley Rouda in 2018. Previously, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) held the district, or those with similar confines, for 30 years. President Biden carried the seat by 1.5 percentage points in November, similar to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 margin.

• FL-27: President Biden: 51.3% – Maria Elvira Salazar (R): 51.4%

The congressional vote was the outlier here as this seat was drawn as a Democratic district as part of the state Supreme Court’s mid-decade re-districting directive. Expect the Republican map drawers to improve this seat for freshman Rep. Salazar (R-Miami).

• NE-2: President Biden: 52.2% – Rep. Don Bacon (R): 50.8%

In a significant way, Nebraska’s 2nd District may have clinched the Presidency for Joe Biden. Nebraska is one of two states that split their electoral votes and when this CD went for Biden, opposite from the rest of the state, it made the Trump national victory path very difficult. Rep. Bacon survived another close election in the Omaha metro district, winning here for the third time with 51 percent or less.

• NY-24: President Biden: 53.4% – Rep. John Katko (R): 53.1%

Despite a nine-point win for President Biden in this Syracuse anchored district (53.4 – 44.4 percent), four-term Rep. Katko recorded a 10-point victory in his own right marking the widest swing of any cross-district.

• PA-1: President Biden: 52.4% – Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R): 56.6%

In a similar result to that found in NY-24, third-term Rep. Fitzpatrick was again able to swing the electorate hard in his direction and win a comfortable re-election victory despite the opposite result at the top of the ticket.
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How Low Can You Go? Below 50% …

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 22, 2021 — Now that the 2020 vote totals are finalized, analysis can be conducted to unearth what clues the election just completed provides for the 2022 cycle.

In looking at all 435 US House districts, we see that 168 electoral contests were decided with the winner receiving less than 60 percent of the vote. A total of 53 campaigns featured the victor receiving 52 percent or less. These 53 results yielded 27 Democratic wins and 26 for the Republicans. Of those, eight, four for each party, produced a plurality result with neither candidate obtaining majority support. It is these latter eight elections where we concentrate our focus.

A ninth seat, that of Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), did yield a majority winner, but with a scant six-vote margin, which was obviously the closest election of the 2020 cycle. Democrat Rita Hart is challenging the outcome before the House Administration Committee claiming that 22 uncounted ballots would give her a nine-vote victory, but so far, the situation has not been addressed. It goes without saying that Iowa’s 2nd District will be a major target for both parties in 2022.

Below is a quick synopsis of what one would think are top electoral targets for 2022, but, as you will see, many of these seats will either drop from the competition board or become a lesser target due to redistricting and other factors.


IA-3: Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) – 48.9%

Rep. Axne was re-elected to a second term in a virtual rerun of her 2018 campaign against then-Rep. David Young (R). As one of four top Iowa Democratic office holders, rumors are already surfacing that Rep. Axne could run for the Senate or governor, particularly if octogenarian Sen. Charles Grassley (R) decides to retire. Axne is not closing the door on a statewide run.

If she does run for the Senate or challenge Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), a 3rd District congressional race becomes very different. Additionally, it appears that this Des Moines-anchored seat will have to yield approximately 60,000 residents to the adjacent seats in redistricting. The three other Hawkeye State CDs all need more population, from between 5 and 40,000 people per seat. Losing this many 3rd District inhabitants could make the seat less Democratic depending upon how the lines are drawn.

Iowa has the reputation of having the fairest redistricting system. A state legislative committee staff is given authority to draw maps based upon the straight census numbers without deference to the incumbent’s political standing or personal residence. The legislature, without amendment, must then approve or disapprove of the committee staff’s new map.

Regardless of the redistricting outcome, the IA-3 race again promises to be a national congressional campaign.


MN-1: Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester) – 48.6%;

MN-2: Rep. Angie Craig (D-Eagan) – 48.2%

The two plurality Minnesota seats will undergo drastic redistricting changes as their state appears set to lose a CD in reapportionment. With the 1st District requiring more than 125,000 additional inhabitants and the 2nd as many as 90,000, the two southern Minnesota seats will look very different in 2022. Additionally, with the legislature being the only one in the country where each political party controls one legislative chamber, the configuration of the next congressional map could be drawn in many different ways.

Obviously, both Reps. Hagedorn and Craig are in vulnerable political situations, with the former wanting to see more Republicans added to his district, while the latter needs an influx of Democrats coming her way.

Regardless the redistricting picture, these two seats will again likely be prime electoral targets.


NV-3: Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) – 48.7%

Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District has been the site of close elections throughout the previous decade. Containing part of southern Las Vegas, the seat covers all of the state’s southern triangle region that lies between California and Arizona.

Nevada will not gain a seat in this year’s reapportionment as it has in the past two census decennials. There will be significant movement among the districts, however, with the 3rd being the prime focus. The latest population figures suggest that CD-3 will have to shed approximately 90,000 residents to other districts.

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More Redistricting Delays – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 17, 2021 — The Census Bureau announced just before the Presidents’ Day holiday break that there will be yet another long delay in transmitting the census data to the states. Without the new numbers, redistricting becomes unachievable.

The new target date is Sept. 30, postponed from their first postponement date of July 30. At this point, the postponed apportionment release date remains April 30, long after the statutory deadline of Jan. 1. Apportionment is the first critical step in the redistricting process since this informs the states how many congressional seats they will be awarded for the current decade.

The late September target (and there’s no guarantee even this date will be met) will make it difficult for many states to finish their redistricting on time, and could force the process into the courts if state legislatures are unable to convene or meet a legislative calendar in terms of allowing public input. Even now, at least several states will have to enact emergency legislation to change deadlines to avoid violating pre-existing legal redistricting deadlines.

The delays have already changed the political situation in New Jersey and Virginia. With both states having odd-numbered year state legislative elections, the two are always the first to receive their new census data. In both states, legislative elections will now proceed under the 2011 maps with previously enacted amendments. When the lines are eventually completed, it is possible that new elections, possibly for 2022, will be ordered in Virginia. New Jersey voters passed a referendum in November that allows redistricting to occur before the 2023 state legislative elections.

Another problem could be lawsuits filed against the eventual apportionment. Apparently, the principal problem for the delays is exactly which people to count and where they are placed. College students, for example, are typically counted at the university campus on which they reside. Now, however, so many are not attending in-person classes. Therefore, arguments are ongoing as to where this group should be counted, either at school or back at their primary residence.

Additionally, one of President Biden’s new executive orders reversed Trump Administration policies about whether or not to count non-citizens. This change of direction has also created further delays.

Based upon these controversies, and others, it is probable that at least one potential losing state – apparently Alabama is on the cusp of losing a seat but may not depending upon the counting criteria – could sue over the apportionment conclusion meaning even further delays as various potential lawsuits wind their way through the judicial process toward final determination. All of this could conceivably mean redistricting is postponed until the 2024 election cycle.

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Ohio Senate: Mandel Declares

By Jim Ellis

Former Ohio State Treasurer and 2012 US Senate candidate Josh Mandel (R), now 2022 senate candidate.

Feb. 12, 2021 — Former Ohio state treasurer and 2012 US Senate candidate Josh Mandel (R), armed with over $4.3 million in his federal campaign account, announced Wednesday that he will run for the state’s open Senate seat next year. Last week, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/ Youngstown) stated that he will officially declare his own federal statewide candidacy in March.

It is clear that Mandel will not be the only major Republican to battle for the GOP nomination. It is likely, however, that he will begin the primary campaign with more money than any of his future competitors. The only other person holding as large a federal war chest who didn’t run for office in 2020 is former US Rep. Pat Tiberi (R), but he has already made public his intention not to enter next year’s open Senate race.

Several members of the Republican congressional delegation are reportedly assessing the Senate contest as is sitting Secretary of State Frank LaRose. Often mentioned as potential candidates are Reps. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus), Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), Dave Joyce (R-Russell Township), and Warren Davidson (R-Troy). Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) and Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) have publicly stated they will not run for the Senate.

Ex-congressman and 2018 US Senate nominee Jim Renacci (R) is another potential contender and confirms that he is considering the race. State Republican Party chair Jane Timken, who resigned her position at the end of last week, is also expected to become a candidate. State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), whose district forms a virtual horseshoe around the city of Cleveland, is also contemplating launching a Senate campaign. Sen. Dolan, the chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee, is a part owner of the Cleveland Indians baseball club.

Mandel was first elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2006 when he was 29 years old. He then won the treasurer’s post in 2010 and held it for eight years. He lost the 2012 Senate race to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) by a 51-45 percent count but raised more than $18 million for his campaign. Mandel was planning to run again in 2018, but his wife’s serious health situation caused him to exit the race after announcing. The couple has since divorced.

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