Jan. 4, 2017 — Embarking upon the new year, which we hope proves happy for all, it is a good time to spend this first week setting the political stage for the coming election cycle. Today, we cover the first 10 states — Alabama through Georgia reporting which members from the various federal delegations may be looking to retire and/or seek a different office.
Alabama: Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R) selection as US Attorney General has thrown the state into political chaos. Five of the six Republican House members report interest in being appointed to the Senate. With Attorney General Luther Strange (R) already declaring that he will run for the seat no matter who is appointed, things may be taking on a different look. Everything will remain murky until Sen. Sessions is confirmed to his new position and Gov. Robert Bentley (R) makes an interim appointment.
The one Republican not looking at the Senate seat is Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile). He is likely to again run for Governor in 2018, when the seat is open. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is also a potential gubernatorial candidate should she not be appointed senator. Gov. Bentley is ineligible to seek a third term.
Alaska: Independent Gov. Bill Walker is eligible to run for re-election. There is no Senate election here in 2018. Rep. Don Young (R-At-Large) is expected to seek a 24th term though, at age 83, he is a perennial retirement candidate.
Dec. 22, 2016 — President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of four-term South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-Lancaster) as Office of Management and Budget Director adds one more special congressional election to the growing number of second season political campaigns.
The SC-5 special election means that five House seats are headed for a replacement vote in addition to maybe a pair of Senate contests. Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4), Tom Price (R-GA-6), and Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) will leave their House seats pending confirmation to posts in the Trump Administration. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34) has resigned his position to become California Attorney General, replacing Sen.-Elect Kamala Harris (D).
The Palmetto State’s 5th District is now a safe Republican seat, made so in the 2011 redistricting plan. Before Mulvaney, Rep. John Spratt (D-Rock Hill) held the district bordering North Carolina just south of the Charlotte metropolitan area for 14 terms, first winning in 1982. After Rep. Mulvaney converted CD-5 to the Republican column in 2010 upon Spratt announcing his retirement, the GOP legislature strengthened the seat for the new incumbent. This was accomplished by moving several Democratic communities into Rep. Jim Clyburn’s (D-Florence) 6th District. The latter seat is now the only Democratic district among the state’s seven seats.
Dec. 21, 2016 — We haven’t even entered the new year yet, and already a rather long list is formulating of individuals either announcing candidacies for other offices, saying they won’t run for certain positions, or refusing to rule out future options.
The following have publicly stated their plans to seek a different office in 2018:
Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) – Indicated her desire to run for governor but will make a formal announcement when her husband’s prostate cancer treatment is completed. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is not eligible to seek a third term.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) – Outgoing Rep. Grayson, who lost the 2016 Senate Democratic primary to Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), says he will challenge Rep. Dan Webster (R) in the safely Republican 11th District. The two faced each other six years ago in the former 8th District, a marginal Orange County seat, and Webster won 56-38%.
Dec. 16, 2015 — Already, calling potentially five special elections may be necessary even before the new 115th Congress convenes. Now, a sixth is on the political horizon now that Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) has been nominated as US Interior Secretary.
As we have detailed in previous Updates, Sen. Jeff Sessions’ Alabama seat could go to a special election after an interim appointment is made, and the North Dakota Senate seat will definitely go before the voters if president-elect Donald Trump chooses Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) as Agriculture Secretary.
In the House, three seats will be vacated either before or just after the new Congress begins. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34) has already resigned his seat to accept Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) appointment as attorney general, replacing Sen.-Elect Kamala Harris (D). The KS-4 and GA-6 districts will be opened when Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Wichita) and Tom Price (R-Roswell) are confirmed as CIA Director and Secretary of Health & Human Services, respectively.
So far, all of the seats, including the North Dakota Democratic Senate seat, should easily go Republican in special elections. The Montana at-large seat, however, may well become competitive.
Dec. 14, 2016 — Just as the 2016 election cycle ended with the Louisiana run-off elections last Saturday, a new round of voting is about to begin.
President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) as Interior Secretary adds yet another future special election to the growing number of House and Senate odd-numbered year electoral contests.
In addition to what could well become a competitive Montana statewide election in approximately 100 days or so, as many as five other campaigns will be calendared within approximately the same time frame depending upon individual state election laws.
With Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) appointed as Trump’s Attorney General-designate, and with speculation being rampant that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will become Agriculture Secretary, two new senators and a trio of US House members will be chosen.
Dec. 12, 2016 — Republicans completed the 2016 election cycle with a sweep of Saturday’s Louisiana run-off races. In the US Senate race, state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) easily defeated Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 61-39 percent, as expected.
State Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City) will replace outgoing Rep. John Fleming (R-Minden/Shreveport). He defeated Democratic attorney Marshall Jones, 65-35 percent, in a race that also contained little in the way of suspense.
Finally, in the double Republican 3rd CD, Lafayette retired police captain Clay Higgins out-polled Public Service Commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle, 56-44 percent. Higgins will replace Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) in the new Congress. Both Fleming and Boustany ran unsuccessfully for US Senate.
In the Senate race, Kennedy captured 55 of the state’s 64 parishes. The result here was never in doubt. Kennedy placed first in the Nov. 8 jungle primary, 25-17 percent over Campbell among 24 candidates. The qualifying Democratic candidate, who has run and lost before in statewide and congressional races, could never attract outside funding support, even from the national Democratic Party apparatus.
Dec. 6, 2016 — The marathon 2016 election cycle will come to a close on Saturday with the Louisiana run-off elections. The US Senate race and two congressional elections were forced to secondary contests, and Republicans appear poised to sweep the trio.
New Senate polling data again shows Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy holding a commanding lead with majority support. According to the new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll (Nov. 28-30; 500 likely Louisiana run-off voters) Kennedy leads his run-off opponent, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 52-38 percent.
Kennedy has a favorability rating of 57:35 percent positive to negative versus Campbell’s 46:44 percent. Kennedy runs strong in the five Republican congressional districts, losing only in the New Orleans-anchored 2nd CD. He posts best in the 1st (Slidell, Metairie, St. Bernard, Jefferson Parishes), 4th (Shreveport, Bossier City, Minden, Nachitoches), and 5th CD (Monroe, Alexandria, Bogalusa), recording around a 30-point spread in each. Campbell has a 40-point margin in the 2nd District (New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Plaquemine).