April 6, 2015 — Familiarity is already returning to at least three congressional races. Two will be in the form of 2016 re-matches from last November, while a new special election appears to be a walk in the park for a recognizable family member.
Last week, former Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) announced that he will seek a re-match with freshman Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes) next year in the Texas swing congressional district that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso.
After this seat was created in a special redistricting during the 1960s, the six TX-23 incumbents prior to Hurd winning in November were all eventually defeated for re-election. This is quite noteworthy when compared to a nationwide electorate that routinely re-elects almost all of its congressmen. Typically, well over 90 percent of House members who seek re-election win. Continue reading >
April 1, 2015 — Candidate filing closed this past Friday for the MS-1 special election, which Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s (R) death made necessary. Twelve Republicans and one Democrat will be on the May 12 Mississippi jungle primary ballot. With so many candidates qualifying, a June 2 run-off between the top two finishers is a virtual certainty, since it would be very difficult for any one contender to attract a majority of the vote.
One prominent name missing from the list is former Rep. Travis Childers (D), who won the last special election held here, and then claimed a full term later in 2008. He was unseated in 2010, and then lost to Sen. Thad Cochran (R) last November in a statewide general election contest. Though it is always possible lightning could have again struck for him in a special election, the chance of Childers holding this strongly Republican northern Mississippi district for a long duration is an unlikely one, at best. Hence, his decision not to run.
The lone Democrat running is former Jackson mayoral aide Walter Zinn. His prospects of qualifying for the run-off are somewhat realistic because the Republican vote will be split literally a dozen ways. His prospects are thin, however, to capture the seat in the run-off. Aside from being a prohibitive underdog against a Republican in a one-on-one battle, Zinn’s Jackson political base is not even in the 1st District. Continue reading >
March 31, 2015 — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) surprise retirement announcement on Friday quickly yielded another unexpected pair of political moves. After saying he wouldn’t run next year, Reid quickly expressed support for former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto as his successor. This, even before Cortez Masto issued a statement of candidacy.
Just a day later, he and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) then both announced their support for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to succeed Reed as the party leader. It was believed that he and Durbin would battle each other for the leadership post, but their action suggests a smooth transition will presumably occur.
Reid’s decision to take a stand in the Democratic primary is within character because he often involves himself in pre-primary Senate races around the country. But, it’s unusual even for him to do so before the candidate is in the race.
This being said, presumably it has been worked out in Democratic circles well behind the scenes that Cortez Masto is the preferred candidate. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1), however, doesn’t appear part of this deal since she describes herself as “seriously considering” a bid for the Senate. Former Secretary of State Ross Miller (D), who lost the race for attorney general last November to Republican Adam Laxalt, is yet another potential Democratic candidate. Continue reading >
Now that Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R) resignation announcement has been absorbed and understood, the list of those who may or may not join the replacement field of candidates is becoming clearer, but the election system itself is not yet finalized.
State Sen. Darin LaHood (R), son of former US Rep. and Transportation Department secretary Ray LaHood (R), is now officially running in the upcoming special election. He enjoys high residual name ID – largely his father’s recognition, because the younger LaHood represents only part of Peoria County and a total of three of the district’s 19 counties – and establishment Republican support.
State Sen. Bill Brady, a former Republican gubernatorial nominee who lost to then-Gov. Pat Quinn (D) by just a percentage point in 2010, will not run, but his brother, Ed Brady, who operates the family home building business, chaired his brother’s gubernatorial campaign, and who formerly worked for Jack Kemp’s 1988 presidential effort, is moving forward with plans to enter the race. Continue reading >
Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R-IL-18) resignation announcement Tuesday, at least for now, ends an impressive upstart political career. Winning a local school board post in a write-in campaign at age 19, Schock became the youngest public official in the state. Four years later, he ran for the state House of Representatives and defeated a long-term incumbent. At age 27, he became the youngest member of Congress in 2009.
However, after a plethora of news stories written consistently during the past two weeks detailed financial reimbursement improprieties over his federal expenses, Rep. Schock announced that he would leave Congress effective March 31. Though his unforced errors have sent him packing, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him make a future political comeback.
Once Schock officially leaves office, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) will have five days to schedule the replacement election. The nominating and general elections must all occur within a 115-day period from the time of scheduling. This means the special general will likely be placed on or about July 28, with the closed party primary elections somewhere on or around June 23. Continue reading >
FEB. 23, 2015 – Missouri Democrats successfully landed their top choice to challenge first-term Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. Secretary of State Jason Kander, an Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran, made public yesterday his plans to seek the US Senate seat next year.
Kander, 33, a former two-term state Representative from the Kansas City metropolitan area, won a close 2012 race for Secretary of State – ironically, a position Blunt himself held from 1985-1993 – defeating Republican Shane Schoeller by just over 39,000 votes out of more than 2.6 million ballots cast.
He will face an uphill battle against Sen. Blunt, one of the best prepared and battle tested of Republican incumbents. Winning a landslide 54-41 percent victory against then-Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) in 2010, Blunt is now chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee in the new Republican majority. Elected to the House from the southwestern 7th Congressional District in 1996, he quickly rose to the position of Chief Deputy Majority Whip, and was elected both Majority and Minority Whip. Continue reading >
FEB. 13, 2015 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released its first group of Frontline program incumbents for the 2016 election cycle. These 14 representatives are viewed to be the most vulnerable of Democratic House incumbents, and a group that the DCCC is highlighting for increased outside support.
Some are more endangered than others, in addition to a group of four who is at least entertaining the idea of running statewide next year. Not having an incumbent in these marginal districts may be the Committee leadership’s greatest fear.
Clearly Competitive (in vulnerability order)
NE-2: Rep. Brad Ashford is likely the most endangered Democratic incumbent. The new congressman unseated eight-term Rep. Lee Terry (R-Omaha) in a vote that may have been more about the previous incumbent’s unpopularity than Ashford. The 2016 race, in a year when the district should vote Republican at the presidential level, could be more difficult for Ashford than his original election.
FL-2: Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham ran a strong campaign against a weak Republican incumbent. She will undoubtedly draw strong opposition, and the district will almost assuredly go Republican for president. The national trends at the time of the next election will play heavily upon how this congressional race unfolds. Continue reading >