Category Archives: Special ELection

Reviewing the House Vacancies

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2020 — With the COVID-19 virus playing havoc with virtually every aspect of American life, including elections, how are the House vacant seats being affected?

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/Buncombe County) resigned from Congress Monday night to become White House Chief of Staff, which brings the total number of vacancies to a half-dozen. Special elections are scheduled in four of those, with three to be decided on or before May 12.

Originally, the special elections in Maryland and New York were supposed to be the first to go to the voters, but the COVID-19 precautions changed the date of the New York election and the voting system in Maryland. Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who easily won the crowded Democratic primary on Feb. 7, will win the special general on April 28 but the process now becomes all-mail. The Republican nominee is event planner Ken Klacik, but this Baltimore city district and surrounding area will easily remain in Democratic hands. We can expect Mfume to break 75 percent of the vote.

The former congressman was elected to five terms in the House beginning with the 1986 election. He resigned to become president and CEO of the NAACP in 1996. Mfume served in that position until running unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006, losing the Democratic primary to then-congressman, Ben Cardin. Then-state Delegate Elijah Cummings replaced Mfume in the House at that time and served until his death in October. Now, ironically, Mfume returns to replace the late Rep. Cummings.

California’s 25th District, which begins in the state’s Simi Valley and stretches to the Palmdale area, potentially features the hottest of the current special elections. Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned the seat because of a sexual scandal leading to a multi-candidate concurrent special and regular election.

Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith topped the field on March 3, and she advances to the special election runoff on May 12 with Iraq War fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R). The latter individual placed ahead of, and eliminated, former US Rep. Steve Knight (R) who was attempting a political comeback after losing to Hill in 2018. Polling is projecting a tight finish. Regardless of what happens on May 12, both Smith and Garcia are advancing to the regular general election to battle for the full term beginning in 2021. The May 12 winner is immediately sworn into the House and serves the remaining part of the current congressional session.

Continue reading

Special Election Nominees Chosen
In WI-7: Tiffany (R), Zunker (D)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 20, 2020 — Wisconsin Republican state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) and Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker (D) won their respective party primaries Tuesday night and now head to the special general election scheduled for May 12. The winner of the succeeding contest replaces resigned Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) in WI-7 who departed Congress earlier in the year for family reasons.

Sen. Tiffany recorded a 57-43 percent win over Army veteran Jason Church who was previously a staff member for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). Church, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, made military service the centerpiece of his campaign. Sen. Tiffany was originally elected to the state assembly in 2010. He won his state Senate seat in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.

Zunker was an easy winner on the Democratic side, amassing a landslide 89-11 percent victory margin in a race where she became the obvious consensus candidate early in the process.

Sen. Tiffany now becomes the heavy favorite to win the seat in May. The northern Wisconsin region has transformed into a dependable Republican area after this district laid in Democratic hands from early 1969 all the way to the beginning of 2011 in the person of former House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey.

Over his five elections here, Rep. Duffy averaged 57.9 percent of the vote. President Trump carried the 7th with a 58-37 percent majority, which was a substantial upgrade over Mitt Romney’s 51-48 percent performance. The Republican trend has clearly grown as the decade progressed.

Turnout in the primary election greatly favored the Republican candidates. When the final count is tabulated, the combined GOP participation factor looks to be well over 76,000 as compared to the Democratic total of just over 40,000 votes. The turnout ratio is another factor that provides Sen. Tiffany with a major advantage heading into the special general election.

Continue reading

Mfume’s Maryland Comeback

By Jim Ellis

Former congressman Kwesi Mfume looks to be headed back to represent Maryland on Capitol Hill.

Feb. 6 2020 — In the midst of the Iowa counting fiasco and President Trump’s State of the Union Address, a special primary election was also held in the state of Maryland. For all intents and purposes, the Democratic primary is the determining factor regarding who will succeed the late Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore). Twenty-four candidates qualified for the Democratic ballot, but the contest narrowed to three serious contenders.

Former US representative, Kweisi Mfume, who originally served in the House for nine years beginning in 1987, was victorious in his comeback attempt. He resigned the seat in 1996 to become president of the NAACP, a position he would hold until 2006 when he ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate, losing to current Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin in the Democratic primary. Cummings would then win the special election to replace then-Rep. Mfume, and now the tables turn.

Mfume captured 43 percent of the vote, far ahead of Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who posted 17 percent support. Maryland state Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore) was third with 16 percent. None of the other candidates broke into double digits.

With Hillary Clinton scoring a 76-20 percent victory over President Trump in 2016, it is a foregone conclusion that Mfume will easily win the special general election on April 28. He will also seek re-nomination for the full term beginning in 2021 on that same day. Upon winning the special election, Mfume will be sworn into office and serve the balance of the current term.

The next special election will occur in Wisconsin on Feb. 18, in a race that should favor the Republicans. State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) will square off against disabled Afghanistan War veteran Jason Church in the GOP primary. The winner advances to the May 12 special general election. Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker is favored to win the Democratic primary.

The California and New York special congressional elections will follow in March and April, respectively. Resigned California representative, Duncan Hunter’s 50th District in San Diego County will remain vacant for the rest of this year.

Next Week’s Other Election

Key candidates who hope to succeed late Rep. Elijah Cummings in MD-7 iclude rom left: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Kweisi Mfume, Talmadge Branch, Jill Carter, Terri Hill, Jay Jalisi, Michael Higginbotham, Saafir Rabb


By Jim Ellis

Jan. 31, 2020 — The Iowa Caucus is not the only election happening next week. The day after Iowans gather in their precinct meetings on Monday, Baltimore area voters will go to the polls to choose nominees to replace the late Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who passed away in early October.

Though Tuesday hosts only the special primary election, the Democratic nominee emerging from that vote will succeed Rep. Cummings in the April 28 special general election from a seat that is virtually unwinnable for a Republican.

Which of the 24 Democrats running will win the nomination is a point of speculation, however. The field includes the late congressman’s widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who resigned her position as Maryland Democratic Party chair to run, and the man who Elijah Cummings replaced in a 1996 special election, former congressman, Kweisi Mfume. Mfume resigned from the House to become President of the NAACP, thus necessitating the special congressional election 24 years ago. He would remain in this position until he ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2006.

Also in the race are state House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch, state Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore), and state Delegates Terri Hill, a Columbia physician, and Jay Jalisi (D-Baltimore County).

The candidate who has so far spent the most money, however, is law professor Michael Higginbotham. He has raised just over $110,000 and loaned his campaign over $500,000. The $600,000+ total is almost $400,000 more than the next closest competitor, ex-congressman Mfume, who reported just over $266,000 in receipts on his Jan. 15 pre-primary financial disclosure filing. The other candidate raising over $200,000 is business consultant Saafir Rabb. All of his funds come from other individuals. Higginbotham and Mfume report having the most cash-on-hand, just over $200,000 apiece.

Continue reading

Rep. Collins Moves Toward Senate

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins

Jan. 30, 2020 — Reports had become rampant over the past several days that north Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) was going to challenge appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) in the upcoming special US Senate election. Just two days ago, Rep. Collins said that he “has no comment … for now,” when asked about his statewide intentions. However, yesterday he confirmed that he would indeed run for US Senate in 2020.

It was clear that Collins had wanted the Senate appointment that Loeffler received, and reports toward the end of the selection process indicated that the final choice was largely between him and Loeffler. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) chose Loeffler, it is reported, in part to promote a woman who he believed could attract more Republican votes in the suburbs, in addition to her family’s substantial wealth giving her a major start-up advantage in campaign resources.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R)

Rep. Collins was President Trump’s strongest defender in his position as ranking Republican Judiciary Committee member during the impeachment hearings, and Trump made no secret of his wish to see the congressman appointed.

In the meantime, Democrats have two candidates, with a third on the political horizon. Businessman Matt Lieberman is the son of 2000 Democratic vice-presidential nominee and former Connecticut senator, Joe Lieberman. Former US Attorney and Georgia state Sen. Ed Tarver is also in the Democratic race, while Rev. Raphael Warnock, the pastor for Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once served as co-pastor with his father, is poised to enter the race.

Continue reading

Special Elections Update

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 1, 2019 — Four seats are now vacant in the House, each headed to a special election prior to the regular cycle calendar, and action is beginning to occur.

• CA-25: Rep. Katie Hill, Resigned — Gov. Gavin Newsom will call a special election to replace the scandal-tainted Rep. Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale), and it is highly likely that either the special primary, or (and probably more likely) the general will be set concurrently with the California presidential primary on Super Tuesday, March 3.

Rep. Hill unseated then-Rep. Steve Knight (R) in 2018, and it appears the former congressman will become a candidate in the special election. It is unlikely that he will be the lone Republican, however. Lancaster City Councilwoman Angela Underwood-Jacobs (R) was already in the race planning to challenge Hill. It is likely that she will remain.

Former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopolous, who was a major target of the Russia investigation, is already an announced candidate. Defense contractor Mike Garcia is also a pre-resignation announced candidate and will likely remain. And, we will probably see others come forward as well.

Democrats were beginning to coalesce around freshman state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall/Santa Clarita) but now state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) is beginning to sound like a candidate. The 25th is a politically marginal district, so this special election campaign promises to be highly competitive.

Continue reading

Open Seat Round-up

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 31, 2019 — With six US House seats coming open in October, it’s a good time to re-set where the incumbent-less districts stand for the next election.

To review the half-dozen October happenings in this regard, in consecutive order Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced her retirement, Elijah Cummings (D-MD) passed away, Francis Rooney (R-FL) declared that he would not seek re-election, Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) decided not to make another congressional run in order to concentrate on her presidential campaign, Katie Hill (D-CA) resigned in scandal, and Greg Walden (R-OR) released his statement saying he will not seek a 12th term in office.

Within the aggregate group of 30 opens, we now see four vacancies. In addition to Rep. Cummings passing away and Hill resigning, two more seats are also headed to special elections because of resignations. Those lie in New York (Chris Collins-R) and Wisconsin (Sean Duffy-R).

Two of the four have election calendars. The MD-7 seat will see a primary on Feb. 4 with a general April 28. The WI-7 district will hold a primary on Feb. 18, and a special general on May 12. Govs. Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Gavin Newsom (CA) will soon set special voting calendars in their states. Gov. Cuomo, who let the 25th District sit vacant for almost a year in 2018 after Rep. Louise Slaughter passed away, chose to fill the seat concurrently with the regular election cycle. The governor has already said he would like to follow the same course this year, but the law won’t allow such a long vacancy.

At this point, the Wisconsin and New York seats should remain Republican, but the GOP has a spotty record in holding NY districts in special elections including this 27th District (then numbered 26), which went Democratic that last time it went to special election in 2011. The Maryland seat will remain Democratic.

Though the House opens now reach 30 seats, a relative few are seriously in play for the districts’ next election. Of the majority Democrats’ nine open seats, seven are considered safe and the next Democratic nominee is a lock to win in each circumstance. For the GOP, which currently holds 21 of the 30, a total of 13 will assuredly elect another Republican.

In terms of competitive seats, the Democrats only risk two. The Hill seat in California is marginal and certainly competitive in an open special election. Democrats have carried the district in two of the last three presidential elections, but Republicans have won three of the four congressional elections in the current configuration during the decade.

The other is IA-2, the seat from which Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) is retiring. The 2nd District is generally reliably Democratic, but President Trump carried it in 2016, 49-45 percent. Democrats are coalescing behind former state Senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart as their candidate. It is here where former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling (R), hopes to make a serious run at an upset. First, however, he must clear the GOP primary and faces state Sen. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) who will be making her fourth run for the US House.

Continue reading