Already Two Open Seats for 2016

Just a week has passed since the 2014 election ended and we already have two US House retirement announcements. Representatives Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8) have already made public their intention not to seek re-election in 2016.

NY-13: Before his last Democratic primary election in June, Rep. Rangel, embroiled in another close contest with state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, made a public statement that the 2014 election campaign would be his last. After his general election victory, he has now confirmed that he will not run for a 24th term in 2016.

The Democrats will keep the seat because the 13th District is one of their safest seats in the country (Obama ’12: 95 percent). Potential Democratic candidates are Espaillat, for the third time, former Gov. David Paterson, state assemblyman and Manhattan Democratic Party chairman Keith Wright, state Sen. Bill Perkins, and former assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, a former congressional candidate. In 1970, Rangel defeated Powell’s father to first claim the Harlem-based congressional district.

PA-8: Back in 2004 when Rep. Fitzpatrick was first elected to the House, he made a pledge to serve just four terms in Congress. He then was defeated in 2006, only to return in 2010. Now re-elected in 2012 and 2014, he will complete eight non-consecutive years at the end of the succeeding term. Therefore, he announced that he will not seek re-election in 2016.

The 8th District, which contains all of Bucks County and a small portion of Montgomery, is a marginal seat. President Obama carried the district in 2008, 53-46 percent, but lost it by a tenth of a percentage point in 2012. Fitzpatrick scored his strongest victory percentage of his career last week, 62-38 percent, defeating former CIA agent Kevin Strouse (D).

The most logical open seat candidate may very well be former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D). Defeating Fitzpatrick in 2006, then-Rep. Murphy failed to survive a rebound challenge from the then-ex-congressman in 2010. Should he not seek the Democratic nomination, a bevy of state legislators in both parties are being mentioned as potential candidates. It is likely this race will be considered a toss-up throughout the 2016 election cycle.

Political Overtime

Action occurred in several uncalled races.

Alaska election officials will finally begin counting tomorrow the approximately 50,000 ballots that remain. We should have an idea if Sen. Mark Begich (D) can close the 8,200 vote gap between himself and former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R).

In Arizona, Republican Martha McSally lost her court challenge asking that thousands of provisional ballots not be counted. Her lead has now dwindled to 341 votes, and all of Republican Cochise County is now reporting. Several thousand provisional votes remain in Pima County (Tucson), an area that is likely to favor the Democratic nominee.

Former Rep. Doug Ose’s (R-CA) lead has greatly diminished now that the absentee ballots are being counted. The process began with as many as 70,000 such ballots to count. Plowing through the ballots, we see that Ose’s previous 2,183 vote lead has decreased yesterday to just 530 votes. While the latest trends favor Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA-7), many of the ballots could still come from areas that heavily favor Ose.

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