Category Archives: Special ELection

LA-2’s Saturday Special Election

(LA-2 Candidate Troy Carter’s Closing Ad)

By Jim Ellis

April 26, 2021 — The special election to fill the vacant Louisiana congressional district from which former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) resigned when he accepted a Biden White House appointment was decided Saturday, with the contest having evolved into a more significant race than originally anticipated.

The one thing we knew coming into the special election was that a Democratic New Orleans state senator would win the race, but the question around which of the two would prevail was one of longer-term national importance. We saw in this race not just a runoff between two Democratic contenders for a Democratic congressional seat, but rather an intensifying battle between the more traditional party base and the hard left movement that has had success in other places.

A victory for the Justice Democrats in the person of state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) will increase the movement’s strength and likely lead to stronger primary challenges against more traditional Democratic incumbents come 2022.

Remember, state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) placed first in the March 20 jungle primary with 34 percent of the vote. Sen. Peterson edged Baton Rouge community activist Gary Chambers, Jr. by 22.9 – 21.3 percent, a margin of 1,510 votes of 94,567 votes cast and spread among 15 candidates.

In the LA-2 special election on Saturday, Carter won by a 10-point spread over Peterson, 55-45%.

Peterson ironically qualified for the runoff with a better-than-expected performance in the Baton Rouge section of the district and fell below expectations in her home city of New Orleans. Conversely, Chambers proved weaker in his home of Baton Rouge but stronger in New Orleans.

Chambers’ endorsement of Sen. Peterson marked the beginning of the support we saw moving toward the second-place finisher, but the lack of available polling data – the last poll we’d seen for this race came from Edgewater Research over the March 1-2 period, which gave Sen. Carter a 35-24 percent lead – allowed us to surmise that Saturday’s end result was likely to be close and could have trended in either direction.

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Ohio Rep. Stivers to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus)

April 21, 2021 — The growing list of US House vacancies has risen again, but this one came as a surprise. Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus), who had raised close to $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2021 in testing the waters for a possible US Senate campaign, has decided to leave elective politics altogether.

Effective May 16, Stivers will resign from the 15th District in the Buckeye State’s US House delegation in order to become President/CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. His about-face from joining the open Senate race leaves former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken and ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel in the GOP field along with author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, who appears ready to enter.

Also in the contest are businessmen Mike Gibbons, a 2018 US Senate candidate, and Bernie Moreno. North Ohio state senator and Cleveland Indians baseball club minority owner Matt Dolan is also a possible Republican candidate. Democrats appear to be coalescing around Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown), though he has yet to formally announce his Senate campaign.

The Stivers move could open the door for one or more of his congressional colleagues who have been considering the Senate race, namely Reps. Mike Turner (R-Dayton), Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), and David Joyce (R-Russell Township).

The Stivers’ seat will become the fifth vacated House district once he departs in the middle of May and the Louisiana congressional vacancy (LA-2) is filled in a special election this Saturday, April 24. Currently, in addition to Rep. Stivers, seven House members have announced they will not be standing for re-election in 2022, either retiring or seeking a different office.

Once Rep. Stivers officially resigns, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) will schedule a replacement special election for the balance of the term. It is more than likely he will follow the same calendar set for the state’s other congressional vacancy, the 11th District of former representative and now-Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland/Akron).

The 11th CD schedule calls for a partisan primary on Aug. 3 with the general election Nov. 2. Ohio election law allows for special elections to be called only in certain months, hence the long cycle for these vacant seats.

The 15th District sits largely in the center of the state and occupies approximately 20 percent of Franklin County, including part of the city of Columbus, and also contains all or portions of 11 other counties. The seat encompasses the rural areas west, southwest, and southeast of the Columbus metro area. It is traditionally Republican, though a version of the seat elected Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy in the 2008 election after eight-term Rep. Deborah Pryce (R) had retired. Kilroy defeated Stivers, then a state senator, in a close 46-45 percent result. He returned for a re-match in 2010 and won a convincing 13-point victory, ousting Kilroy after just her first term in office. Since his first victorious congressional election, Stivers averaged 63.1 percent of the vote over five re-election campaigns.

In presidential elections, the 15th District backed Donald Trump in both of his national elections, 56-42 percent last November, and 55-40 percent against Hillary Clinton in 2016. We can expect a crowded special Republican primary with the eventual nominee beginning the general cycle as the favorite. Democrats can be expected, however, to field a credible nominee and will likely make a concerted effort to win the special election.

Though Ohio is set to lose a congressional district in reapportionment, the 15th, which touches the main growth region of the state, in and around Columbus, will likely remain relatively intact. According to the latest available Census records, the 15th would need to gain less than 10,000 residents, while adjacent Districts 3 (Rep. Joyce Beatty-D) and 12 (Rep. Troy Balderson-R), the only two over-populated CDs in Ohio, must shed people.

IA-2: Hart Concedes;
NM-1: Dems Nominate

Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa)

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2021 — Former Iowa state senator, Rita Hart (D), withdrew her challenge late Wednesday afternoon, before the House Administration Committee pertaining to Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) six-vote victory in the November election. Also, the New Mexico Democratic State Central Committee met virtually over the past two days in order to choose a congressional nominee to fill the state’s 1st District vacancy. The seat is in special election cycle because Deb Haaland resigned her federal legislative office in order to join the Biden cabinet as Interior Secretary. Details below:

Iowa

In a released statement, IA-2 challenger Hart said, “Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans.”

In actuality, the miniscule victory margin is the first such result of this type since 1984, not in 100 years, when in a similar case the House of Representatives decided in early 1985 that then-Rep. Frank McCloskey (D-IN) was re-elected with a four-vote margin.

The IA-2 result was a point of controversy ever since the new Congress was sworn into office on Jan. 3. Instead of challenging the six-vote margin in the Iowa court system, Hart chose to bring her complaint directly to the House of Representatives. She claimed that Iowa election authorities has not counted 22 legal ballots that would have changed the final outcome. The officials retorted that they rejected the ballots for various reasons of noncompliance with state election laws.

After the body’s internal organization process was completed, the House Administration Committee voted on a 6-3 party line vote to hear Hart’s case. There had been much chatter in the news media and blogosphere during the past two weeks about the Democratic leadership wanting to award the seat to Hart, thus displacing Rep. Miller-Meeks who had been provisionally seated on Jan. 3 pending the outcome of the Hart challenge.

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LA-2 Special Election Tightening

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2021 — The Louisiana special congressional election between two New Orleans Democratic state senators appears to be tightening after the perceived underdog just scored an important endorsement that could help produce a closer than anticipated finish on April 24.

Louisiana state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans)

Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) placed first in the March 20 jungle primary with 36 percent of the vote. Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) was second with 23 percent, just ahead of Baton Rouge community activist Gary Chambers Jr. who posted 21 percent. Because no one reached the majority threshold, the top two finishers, Sens. Carter and Peterson, advanced to the special runoff election scheduled for late April.

Chambers, the third-place finisher, announced Wednesday that he is endorsing Sen. Peterson. With his 23 percent of the vote, Chambers can be a major influence in the runoff election. This is particularly true within the East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes, where he performed well.

Louisiana state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans)

In the Baton Rouge area, for example, meaning both the East and West Baton Rouge parishes (though the West Baton Rouge entity only produced a total of 1,414 votes in the March 20 jungle primary election), Chambers and Sen. Peterson combined to record 65 percent of the original vote as compared to Sen. Carter’s 25 percent.

Also, the Congressional Progressive Caucus organization began running television advertising Wednesday that thanked Sen. Peterson for voting to expand the number of those eligible for Medicaid health benefits.

The outside CPC assistance supports the Peterson campaign strategy. One of her main goals is to identify herself as the more progressive of the two candidates. In this same vein, for example, she draws the distinction between her position and that of Sen. Carter regarding the Green New Deal. His public statements for the program have not been as strongly favorable as Sen. Peterson’s.

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One Down, 4 Special Elections to Go

By Jim Ellis

March 26, 2021 — Though Rep-Elect Julia Letlow’s (R) victory in Louisiana last Saturday completed one special congressional election, four others are still in-cycle and fresh ballot test data was just released from the Texas seat.

Next up on the schedule is the LA-2 double-Democratic runoff between state Sens. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) on April 24. Next, on May 1, voters in Texas’ 6th District will go to the polls to begin the replacement process for the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington). Replacing Biden cabinet members and ex-Reps. Deb Haaland and Marcia Fudge will occur on June 1 and Nov. 2, respectively, in New Mexico and Ohio.

As in Louisiana, the Texas race features the late incumbent’s widow running, but a new poll suggests that Susan Wright’s support is not as deep as Letlow’s in neighboring Louisiana. On Saturday, Letlow, whose late husband, Luke Letlow, passed away three weeks after he won the December 2020 runoff election, scored a landslide 65 percent outright victory over 11 opponents.

In the North Texas race, the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group recently surveyed the 6th District electorate for their client, candidate Lydia Bean (D), during the March 11-16 period and interviewed 500 likely special election voters.

While the results found Wright leading the pack of 23 candidates, she reached only 18 percent support but that was nine percentage points better than her closest opponent, 2018 Democratic congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez.

Freshman state representative and 2018 Republican congressional candidate, Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), the only sitting elected official in the massive candidate field, followed closely behind with eight percent support. Bean, a non-profit organization founder, and former George W. Bush White House aide Brian Harrison were next, posting six percent apiece.

The results suggest that Wright has a clear lead, her advantage is by no means insurmountable and, at this point in the special election cycle, the data is certainly pointing to a pair of candidates advancing into a runoff election.

Under Texas special election procedure, the governor does not schedule the secondary election until it is clear that the runoff is necessary, and the participants chosen. In this case, we won’t know the date of the next election after May 1. It is presumed, however, that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will schedule the runoff in mid to late July.

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