Special Elections Mounting — House

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 15, 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 Zinke, President-Elect Trump has selected House colleagues Tom Price (R-GA-6; Health and Human Services) and Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4; CIA Director) for Administration appointments. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has appointed Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34) to replace Sen.-Elect Kamala Harris (D-CA) as the state’s Attorney General. All of these members will be resigning their current seats immediately before taking their new offices.

Here’s how things are beginning to formulate in the House (we looked at the Senate yesterday):

KS-4: Rep. Pompeo will leave his Wichita-anchored seat upon confirmation as CIA director. This succeeding special congressional election will be the first such Kansas vote since 1950.

We can expect a crowded field of candidates since state legislators will not have to risk their current positions to run. Former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R), who challenged Pompeo in the 2012 Republican primary, is mentioned as a possible candidate. So is businessman Wink Hartman (R), who opposed the current congressman in his initial 2010 election. State Treasurer Ron Estes (R) and several state legislators are also mentioned as potential congressional candidates. No Democratic names have so far arisen.

Once Pompeo officially resigns, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) will have five days to call an election that will fall between 45 and 60 days after the certificate of vacancy is filed. After the 24th day, the political parties will meet in convention to determine their special election nominees. The 4th District political committees, having more than 100 voting members, will meet in convention to pick the respective candidates.

GA-6: Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) will vacate his Fulton-Cobb-DeKalb County district upon being confirmed as the new Health and Human Services Department Secretary. Georgia uses a jungle primary format for the original special election. The top two finishers advance to a run-off if no one receives a majority of the first vote. The last special congressional election also occurred in this district when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) resigned both his leadership position and congressional seat in 1999.

A long list of names are identified as potential candidates, including former Secretary of State and gubernatorial and US Senate contender Karen Handel (R) and a multitude of state legislators. State Sen. Jordan Hill (R), former state Sen. Ron Slotin (D), and attorney Josh McLaurin (D) have already declared their candidacies. Since Trump only carried this normally reliable Republican district 48-47 percent, Democrats feel they have a chance to be competitive in a special election.

CA-34: We’ve already covered the happenings in this downtown Los Angeles vacant seat now beginning in earnest since incumbent Rep. Xavier Becerra (D) has already resigned his congressional seat to become attorney general.

Immediately upon the Becerra appointment announcement, former state Assembly Speaker John Perez (D) declared his candidacy, but a sudden slight heart attack has already forced him to withdraw. State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D), labor union activist Wendy Carrillo (D), former Obama White House aide Alejandra Campoverdi (D), and Los Angeles City Council former aide Sara Hernandez (D) have all declared their candidacies. This solidly Democratic district will send two Democrats to a secondary run-off election. The winner will likely be able to hold the seat as long as he or she wants to remain in Congress. Gov. Brown will soon set the schedule for the special vote.

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