Tag Archives: Missouri

Republican Smith Wins Missouri Special Election

Rep. Jason Smith

Rep. Jason Smith

For virtually the first time since this 113th Congress began in early January, the House of Representatives now has all 435 seats filled. Last night, Missouri Republican state Rep. Jason Smith won the 8th Congressional District special election easily outpacing his Democratic state House colleague, Steve Hodges.

Smith scored an impressive 67-27 percent victory in what has become a solidly Republican southeastern Missouri seat as evidenced in Mitt Romney defeating President Obama here 66-32 percent last November.

The special congressional election never captured much attention. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R) announced her resignation in December in order to accept a job in the private sector, and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) then scheduled a very long special election cycle. Smith won his party caucus in early February, and Hodges followed suit on the Democratic side the following week. Thus, the four-month special election began.

The fact that the contest never created any controversy clearly favored the majority party candidate, and Smith took full advantage of his opportunity. Turnout was very low, with only 62,764 votes being recorded. Normally, participation in special congressional elections nears 100,000 voters. The previous special vote, the May 7 South Carolina contest that elected Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC-1), saw more than 143,000 ballots cast, for example.

Representative-elect Smith should have little trouble holding this seat in the 2014 regular election and will likely be safe in his new position at least until the districts are redrawn in 2021.

Nebraska Sen. Johanns to Retire

In a surprising announcement, first-term Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns (R), announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election next year. Johanns, a former US Agriculture Secretary, two-term Nebraska governor, mayor, and county commissioner was elected to the Senate in 2008, defeating rancher Scott Kleeb 58-40 percent.

Sen. Johanns appeared to be a lock for a second term, but says he and his wife’s desire to return to “a quieter life” after what will be 32 years in public office at the end of this Congress is what drives his decision.

The seat should easily remain in Republican hands because the Democrats have a weak political bench in the Cornhusker State. With their best possible candidate, former Sen. Bob Kerrey, losing badly to freshman Sen. Deb Fischer (42-58 percent) last November in what was a clear Democratic year nationally, the party leaders and candidates will have a difficult time reaching the realm of competitiveness in 2014.

On the Republican side, the early speculation surrounds popular term-limited Gov. Dave Heineman. Clearly, he would be the party’s strongest candidate should he make the run.

If the governor takes a pass on the race, then look for one or more of the state’s three congressmen to take the leap. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE-3) are more likely to run than 2nd District Rep. Lee Terry (R). Terry, just appointed chairman of the House Sub-Committee (of Energy & Commerce) on Commerce, Manufacturing, & Trade, may  Continue reading >

2014 House Challenges

Already, several individuals have announced, or will likely announce, challenges to certain incumbent House members for the 2014 election cycle. As in the early part of all election cycles, the political moves are very fluid, but the ones listed below appear concrete:

Challengers

  • CA-35: Ex-Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA-43), defeated in 2012 by then-state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D), will seek a re-match with the woman who ousted him from the House. Under California’s top-two election law, both Democrats qualified for the general election, and will likely do so again. It was a bit of a surprise that Baca decided to run in new District 35 back in 2012, when his home and political base (city of Rialto: population 100,662) was placed in new District 31, represented by Rep. Gary Miller (R). Though he could opt to challenge Miller in a district that contains 44 percent of his former constituency, the former congressman appears committed to running another race against freshman Rep. Negrete McLeod.
  • CO-6: Rep. Mike Coffman (R), winning a close 48-46 percent victory in a new Democratic district where President Obama recorded 52 percent, will face another difficult re-election contest. Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), a defeated 2010 Senatorial candidate, is formally in the  Continue reading >

Mr. Smith Looks to Go to Washington; Alaska Numbers

State Rep. Jason Smith, the Missouri House of Representatives’ Speaker Pro Tempore, was chosen Saturday as the Republican nominee for the June 4 special election called to replace resigned Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO-8). Earlier this month, the congresswoman left the House to become the president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

Eighty-four of the 86 designated members from the 30 county Republican committees that comprise the 8th Congressional District, and 14 at-large voters, caucused in the small town of Van Buren to nominate a standard bearer. Smith won on the sixth ballot, defeating Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and former state Sen. Jason Crowell. Ex-Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith withdrew after the fifth ballot. Former one-term congressman Wendell Bailey was eliminated after three. Smith led the balloting in all six rounds and recorded 55 votes on the final vote, five more than he needed to claim the nomination. Neither Kinder nor Crowell ever topped the 20-vote mark.

Jason Smith, an attorney and farmer, is serving his fifth term in the state House, originally coming to the legislature via special election to fill a vacancy in 2005. He was unopposed in new District 120 last November. Born in St. Louis, the 32-year-old legislator moved to Dent County  Continue reading >

House Happenings

Some district updates from around the country:

LA-3

The final 2012 House campaign is nearing a conclusion. Under Louisiana law, if no candidate receives a majority of the vote on Election Day, a run-off between the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, is to be held at a later date. That time, in the case of the LA-3 contest between Republican Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7) and Jeff Landry (R-LA-3), is a week from Saturday, Dec. 8. The two incumbents were forced into one southwest Louisiana district because the state lost a seat in reapportionment. Seventy-six percent of the new 3rd District comes from Boustany’s current 7th CD.

A newly released poll, from Red Racing Horses/PMI (Nov. 27-29; 600 likely LA-3 voters), gives Rep. Boustany a 51-33 percent lead over Landry. In the original election among five candidates (three Republicans, one Democrat, and one Libertarian), Boustany placed first with 44.7 percent of the vote versus Landry in second tallying 30.1 percent, a difference of 45,596 votes from 311,393 ballots cast. Boustany looks to be in strong shape in terms of past performance, polling spread, and geography, but a substantially lower Dec. 8th turnout could yield a much closer electoral affair.

IL-2

As predicted, the Illinois legislature just passed a bill that will move the IL-2 special general election to April 9 from March 19. Under Illinois election law, the seat must be filled within 155 of the vacancy occurring, hence the original schedule. But, with local and municipal elections already scheduled for April 9, it made financial and practical sense to combine all of the contests on the one date. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) will sign the bill.

In this case, the general election is a mere formality as the Democratic primary winner will easily hold this seat. The date of that first election, Feb. 26, does not change. It is here that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s replacement will effectively be chosen.

The Democratic field now stands at seven candidates, which includes former US representatives Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11) and Mel Reynolds (D-IL-2), state senators Donne Trotter, Toi Hutchinson and Napoleon Harris, Cook County CEO Robin Kelly, and Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale. Pastor Corey Brooks and Chicago Alderman Will Burns have removed themselves from consideration.


CA-51

Another vacancy has occurred in the House, but only until the new Congress convenes. This means one less vote for the Lame Duck session. Rep. Bob Filner (D) resigned from Congress to officially become mayor of San Diego, a position he won in the November general election. His replacement in Congress, state Sen. Juan Vargas (D), will take office as a regular-term freshman in January.

MO-8

A quirk may soon occur in the race to succeed outgoing Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R). Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has reportedly asked Republican Party leaders to consider appointing him as the replacement Republican nominee. The local county committees from both parties will choose nominees in lieu of a special congressional primary.

The succession process for filling a vacancy in the office of Missouri lieutenant governor is unclear. Therefore, it is quite possible that Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will be able to appoint Kinder’s replacement should the latter be elected to Congress in the yet-to-be-scheduled special general election. If Nixon appoints a member of his own party, which is a certainty, the Democrats would then control every statewide constitutional office despite the state’s strong tilt to the right in federal elections. This would leave Sen. Roy Blunt as the sole Missouri Republican statewide elected official.

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson

Another House Vacancy

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson

The new congressional session has not even begun yet, and already two special elections are being called in early 2013. In previous reports we have covered the resignation of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) and the primary and special general that will be held in his former district on Feb. 26 and March 19 respectively, but now another new extraordinary election cycle will begin in Missouri.

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO-8) announced that she will leave the House in early February to assume the presidency of the Rural Electrical Cooperative Association. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will schedule one special election more than likely within 100 days after the seat officially becomes vacant. Under Missouri election law, the local county parties will choose their replacement nominees, so no primary voting will occur.

Missouri’s 8th District occupies the southeastern sector of the state, a rural 30-county region that contains the Ozark National Scenic Riverway, the Mark Twain National Forest, the state’s “boot heel” region found at the most southeastern point of Missouri that effectively splits Arkansas and Tennessee, and the town of Cape Girardeau – the boyhood home of conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh.

MO-8 is the second-most Republican district in the state, behind only the adjacent 7th CD. It gave President George W. Bush 62 percent of its votes in 2004, and John McCain 60 percent in 2008. The Obama-Romney 2012 numbers are not yet available by Missouri congressional district, but it is a virtual certainty that Republican nominee Mitt Romney also topped 60 percent. Despite Missouri losing a seat in reapportionment, the 8th kept 86 percent of its territory from the previous redistricting cycle.

Emerson served in the House since 1996, replacing her late husband Bill Emerson who was originally elected in 1980. After her original special election victory, she went onto win a full term in November of ’96 and has cruised to re-election ever since. Her last competitive race came in 2010, when former Army Special Forces Major Tommy Sowers raised over $1.6 million to challenge the congresswoman, but couldn’t even muster 30 percent of the vote. Pres. Barack Obama then appointed Sowers to replace now Congresswoman-elect Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Already mentioned as possible Republican congressional candidates are Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, state GOP executive director Lloyd Smith, former state treasurer and recent US Senate candidate Sarah Steelman, and at least four state legislators. Smith is a former chief of staff to Emerson. Lt. Gov. Kinder is a former staff member to the late Congressman Emerson.

This should be an easy Republican hold in a special election, but the party has performed poorly in these sorts of campaigns during the recent past. Much more will unfold very shortly.

Senate Balance of Power is Murky

The nation’s presidential choice is not the only political decision still undetermined at this late date. It now appears that as many as 13 US Senate races are either in the toss-up category or on their way to being categorized as such. In addition to the mainstay toss-up campaigns, we find that the Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, Indiana, Florida and Ohio races are not yet put to bed, either.

Swings and shifts in places like North Dakota, Arizona, Connecticut and Pennsylvania suggests that once perceived clear-cut trends in those places are now less certain.

With the presidential race likely coming down to the votes from a state or two, the Senate majority could as well. The Republicans need a net gain of four states to secure a bare minimum 51-seat majority, while the Democrats need to hold their losses to three in order to maintain chamber control.

A probable Republican loss in Maine and possibly failing to retain Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts means the GOP would have to convert six Democratic seats. Since former Sen. Bob Kerrey does not appear particularly competitive in Nebraska, the real majority number recedes to five. Converting the open Democratic seat in North Dakota is now considered a must-win situation. And, taking at least two of the three pure toss-up campaigns in Virginia, Montana, and Wisconsin now becomes a requirement. Additionally, the Republicans would still have to win at least one long-shot campaign, from a state such as Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Connecticut, and possibly Pennsylvania. The long-term toss-up seat in Missouri appears to be breaking Sen. Claire McCaskill’s way.

But all of the aforementioned presumes the Republicans hold their own seats in Arizona, Indiana and Nevada, none of which are tightly secured at this writing.

Early in the cycle, with the Democrats having to protect 23 seats as compared to the Republicans’ 10, it was assumed that the odds favored forging a new Republican majority. Now, there are fewer people expressing such a sentiment. If Pres. Obama and the Democrats catch a wave going into the election’s final days, Republicans losing seats must also be considered within the realm of possibility.

So, as Election Day draws nearer, the Senate campaign picture is appearing more cloudy.