Category Archives: Special ELection

Oklahoma Senate Special Challenged

By Jim Ellis

Veteran Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R)

March 10, 2022 — The lawyer who defended 1995 Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator who was later executed in 2001, has petitioned the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging the state’s new special election law.

Last year, the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill that now allows US Sen. Jim Inhofe (in this case) to irrevocably declare that he would resign his position at the end of the year in order to conduct a concurrent special election to coincide with the current election calendar. Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed the bill into law.

Attorney Stephen Jones, himself a former US Senate candidate — he challenged then-Sen. David Boren in the 1990 Democratic primary and attracted just 17 percent of the vote — filed his challenge late Monday, and asked the high court to freeze the current Senate candidate filing period with respect to the special election. The legal move was made just after Gov. Stitt officially set the special election to run concurrently with the 2022 regular midterm election calendar.

Individuals have until April 15 to file for this year’s elections, and several, US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville), state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), former National Security Council staff head Alex Gray, and Inhofe former chief of staff Luke Holland, have already announced that they will enter the special Senate election. The Oklahoma primary is June 28. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers advance to an Aug. 23 runoff election.

The legislature passed the bill last year, and Gov. Stitt signed the legislation that created the current system — which is, that if a letter is filed with the proper state authorities prior to March 1 of an even-numbered year containing a date certain as to when the office holder will officially resign, the succeeding special election to replace that person can proceed within the regular election calendar even though the person affected remains in office. Sen. Inhofe met those required conditions.

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Cherfilus-McCormick Easily Wins Special election in Florida’s FL-20 Congressional District

By Jim Ellis

Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick easily won Tuesday’s special election in Florida’s FL-20 Congressional District.

Jan. 13, 2022 — Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, as expected, easily defeated Republican Jason Mariner Tuesday in a district that gave President Biden a 77-22 percent majority in 2020. Cherfilus-McCormick scored a 79-20 percent victory with 55,457 people voting and will now serve the balance of the late Rep. Alcee Hastings’ (D-Delray Beach) final term.

After winning the special Democratic primary over Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness on Nov. 2 by just five votes, Rep-Elect Cherfilus-McCormick can now expect a highly competitive regular election Democratic primary challenge. Holness has already said he will oppose the new incumbent in the 2022 nomination election as he continues to pursue legal action in hopes of overturning the special primary results.

The Florida special congressional election was the nation’s eighth during this legislative session. Like the other seven, the candidate of the party originally holding the seat won the special vote. Five were Democrat seats, and three Republican. A ninth special election, that for resigned Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R) seat in California, has been scheduled for April 5 with a runoff on June 7 if none of the eventual contenders garner majority support in the first vote.

Though predictions of a coming wave Republican election appear to be rampant, the odd-year election pattern reveals no such precursor. As mentioned, 100 percent of the congressional special elections have remained true to the originating party, but that has almost also been true among special elections in state legislatures.

A total of 33 state special elections occurred in 2021. Republicans captured three Democratic seats in Connecticut, Iowa, and Texas, but Democrats turned the tables on Republicans in another three: New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Therefore, a net conversion factor of zero resulted.

When the Democrats predicted their “blue wave” coming for the 2018 election, the commensurate election cycle saw much change in the special elections. In the 2017-18 cycle the Democrats flipped a net total of 19 seats that some believe was a prelude to the Democrats’ success in the regular ’18 election.

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Today’s Election Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2021 — Today is a significant Election Day, and the menu of races stretches beyond a Virginia governor’s race that has attracted the lion’s share of political attention.

While the VA governor’s race will of course be top of mind as results come in tonight and analysts attempt to assign precursor status to the contest regardless of the final result, other campaigns will also be of significance.

In the Virginia race, if Republican Glenn Youngkin scores an upset win, and the late indications are clearly moving his way, it may be cast as an affront to the Biden Administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress relating to their legislative agenda. In actuality, it is a more locally based issue, education, that should correctly be cast as the linchpin to describe a Youngkin victory.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) debate comment saying he did not believe “parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” will actually prove to be the key turning point to a Youngkin victory should it materialize. In McAuliffe wins, then the talk of a coming Republican wave election next year will certainly dissipate at least in the short term.

In addition to the Virginia governor’s race, the remainder of the statewide ticket, the lieutenant governor and attorney general races could be of significance. If Winsome Sears (R), running for lieutenant governor, and Jason Miyares (R), running for attorney general, both win their races to compliment a Youngkin victory, then talk of a clear precursor or budding Republican wave election will carry a more serious tone.

New Jersey voters will decide their governor’s contest as well. In Jersey, late polling, after seeing some closer numbers not even 10 days ago, seems to show Gov. Phil Murphy (D) pulling away from Republican Jack Ciattarelli in the closing week. The final result will likely be closer than most analysts would have projected at the beginning of the odd-numbered year election cycle, however.

In both Virginia and New Jersey, voters will also be electing members of the state legislature. In the Old Dominion, only the House of Delegates is on the ballot, as state senators, with their four year terms, won’t face the voters as a unit until the 2023 election cycle.

In the Garden State, both parties are projecting they will gain seats, but no one believes the strong Democratic majorities in the state Senate and Assembly are in any danger. In the Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans need to convert a net six seats to re-claim the majority they lost in the 2019 election.

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Brown, Carey Win In Ohio

Shontel Brown scored a convincing win in Ohio’s 11th District Democratic primary, virtually assuring her of a special general election victory on Nov. 2.

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2021 — Primary voters in two Ohio districts, for all intents and purposes, chose replacements Tuesday for resigned Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) and Steve Stivers (R-Columbus).

County Councilwoman and Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown scored a convincing win in the 11th District Democratic primary, virtually assuring her of a special general election victory on Nov. 2 in a seat that is safe for her party. Ohio Coal Association chairman Mike Carey did likewise in the 15th District Republican primary that occupies much of the Buckeye State’s southern sector.

Despite polling showing Brown trailing former state Sen. Nina Turner but consistently gaining momentum, it was obvious that the winner’s campaign peaked at precisely the right time. With 75,064 people voting in the Democratic primary, Brown scored a 50.2 – 44.5 percent victory. The other 11 candidates split the remaining 5.3 percent.

The 11th District contains most of the city of Cleveland in Cuyahoga County and part of Akron in Summit County. Brown’s Cuyahoga total percentage spread of 50.4 – 44.1 almost exactly mirrored the district-wide vote. Conversely, Turner scored a very tight 48.8 – 40.0 percent plurality in Summit County, a difference of just 54 votes.

Turner, the former national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders for President campaign attracted support from the Democratic socialist movement, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the Justice Democrats PAC. She began the campaign as almost a prohibitive favorite, leading by a 50-15 percent margin in a late May Tulchin Research organization survey. Once the final financial totals are known, it will be clear that Turner outspent the winner by a better than 2:1 margin.

Brown, receiving backing from the more establishment-oriented Democrats including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the Congressional Black Caucus, and former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others, began to chip away at the former state legislator’s lead about six weeks before the election and made steady gains through the closing period as polling highlighted.

The race’s most recent survey, from the Mellman Group (July 13-17; 400 OH-11 likely voters), gave Turner only a 41-36 percent advantage. A poll generally scoffed at in early July, from the Republican firm TargetPoint, found the two candidates tied at 33 percent. In the end, it was TargetPoint that proved closest to the final mark.

On the Republican side, with just 5,299 voters participating, community activist Laverne Gore was an easy winner, capturing 74 percent support. The Nov. 2 special election is now just a formality in the heavily Democratic district, however, and Brown can count on being sworn into the House toward the end of this year.

In his victory speech, 15th District Republican primary winner Mike Carey gave a large portion of the credit to former President Donald Trump who endorsed him in a crowded field of eleven candidates. “Tonight, the voters of the 15th Congressional District sent a clear message to the nation that Donald J. Trump is, without a doubt, the clear leader of our party,” Carey began his victory speech before his victory party supporters.

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Ellzey’s Upset Win in TX-6

Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) tallied an upset win in the TX-6 special election Tuesday.

By Jim Ellis

July 29, 2021 — Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) tallied an upset win in the TX-6 double-Republican special runoff election Tuesday, defeating the race’s nominal favorite, Susan Wright, widow of the late Congressman Ron Wright (R-Arlington).

While polling and endorsements suggested a Wright victory – the most recent public poll from American Viewpoint released last week projected Wright holding a 10-point, 44-34 percent, advantage – the Ellzey win should be viewed as a mild upset. This is the third election in the four in which Rep-Elect Ellzey was a candidate where he considerably exceeded expectations.

Jake Ellzey, an airline pilot, rancher, and Iraq and Afghan War veteran, first came on the political scene with a surprising second-place finish in the 2018 open seat 6th District congressional primary, forcing then-Tarrant County Tax Assessor Wright into a secondary runoff election. Mr. Wright was viewed as a clear favorite in the follow-up vote but managed only a 52-48 percent win, with Ellzey again out-performing polling and projections. He then immediately came back an easily won an open seat primary and general election in a safe Republican state House of Representatives district.

When Rep. Wright passed away, the special election drew 23 candidates including Ms. Wright and state Rep. Ellzey. Local forecasters were expecting Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez to secure a runoff position against Ms. Wright, possibly even perhaps finishing in first position, but Ellzey again surprised the analysts by edging Sanchez for second place. In the underdog role again, Ellzey recorded a 53-47 percent win.

Several noteworthy points came from the race. First, turnout was very low, only a 38,994 unofficial participation figure. This compares to 78,374 cast ballots in the special jungle primary for a drop-off rate of just over 50 percent. Considering that this was a double-Republican runoff and Democrats had little reason to vote since they had no candidate, such a small return voter figure is not particularly surprising.

Second, the early vote and election day vote proportion were virtually identical. Both Rep. Ellzey and Ms. Wright doubled their early vote total almost exactly. Conversely, in the jungle primary, Ellzey recorded over 70 percent of his total vote in the early phase, while Ms. Wright drew only 42 percent of her aggregate share from those voting prior to election day. Therefore, Ellzey significantly improved his election day operation.

Third, the big change from the jungle primary to the runoff election was the vote from Tarrant County, the district’s largest local entity. In the initial election, Ms. Wright ran strong in rural Navarro County and Ellzey did likewise in his home county of Ellis. This pattern remained consistent Tuesday night.

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