Sept. 14, 2015 — The last US House vacancy was officially filled last night when Illinois state Sen. Darin LaHood (R) easily won the special election in the Peoria-anchored district left vacant when then-Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL-18) resigned over improper expenses.
LaHood, the son of former representative and US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, had an easy run from the beginning of the special election cycle. With no strong opponents filing in either the Republican primary or for the general election, the Peoria state senator’s pre-candidate filing operation positioned him as a consensus candidate virtually from the beginning.
LaHood garnered 69 percent of the vote against educator Rob Mellon (D), sweeping an 18th District that travels around and among the cities of Peoria, Springfield, and Normal before encompassing the rural region to the Missouri border.
The final turnout of 50,747 voters is a little more than half the average total of what we generally see for a special congressional election. The fact that this low-key campaign produced virtually no competition left no doubt about the final conclusion, hence the low voter participation rate.
July 9, 2015 — As expected, Illinois state Sen. Darin LaHood (R) cruised to an easy special election primary victory Tuesday in the vacant Peoria-anchored congressional district. Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R) March resignation created the vacancy, which is the only unrepresented seat in the entire US House.
LaHood, whose father, Ray LaHood, represented the seat for 14 years before becoming President Obama’s Transportation Secretary, topped 69 percent of the vote against two weak GOP opponents who spent less than $50,000 combined on their campaigns. Democrats officially nominated educator Rob Mellon, an Army Reserve officer who lost his party’s congressional primary in 2014.
LaHood will easily defeat Mellon, but must wait until Sept. 10 for the next vote in what is an unusually long special election cycle. His eventual victory will bring the House party division back to 247R-188D, the spread generated on Election Night 2014. Continue reading >
June 2, 2015 — The vacant northern Mississippi congressional district (Tupelo, Columbus, Memphis suburbs) will be filled today, as special run-off participants Trent Kelly (R) and Walter Zinn, Jr. (D) do battle in the secondary election.
The race shouldn’t be much of a contest. The 1st CD is heavily Republican and campaign resources greatly favor Kelly, the Alcorn County Prosecuting Attorney and Iraq War veteran who outpaced 11 other Republicans in the May 12 jungle primary. Zinn is the lone Democrat who filed, hence he was able to place first in the badly fractured field despite spending only $9,000 on his primary campaign effort.
Harper Polling released a survey of the race (May 28; 509 likely MS-1 voters), finding Republican Kelly with a big lead, as predicted. According to HP, the local Republican prosecutor would top the former Jackson Democratic mayoral aide 54-37 percent. This should translate into a victory margin approaching, if not breaking, the 60 percent threshold.
The district was left vacant in early February when three-term Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R) passed away. Filling this district tonight will mean only one vacancy remains, that being the IL-18 seat of resigned-Rep. Aaron Schock (R) who won’t be replaced until September.
Tonight’s winner fills the remainder of the current term and is eligible to seek re-election in the 2016 regular cycle.
May 6, 2015 — The season’s first special election concluded last night in New York’s 11th Congressional District with little fanfare as Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan (R) easily rode to a landslide victory in former Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R) vacated seat. Grimm resigned at the beginning of the term after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion.
The election drew only 39,867 voters for an abysmally low turnout percentage of 9.8 percent. Donovan, who was viewed as the prohibitive favorite here since the special election cycle began, captured 59 percent of the vote compared to New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile’s (D-Brooklyn) 40 percent. Green Party nominee James Lane picked up the final 1.3 percent, or 521 raw votes. Donovan carried the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party ballot lines, while Gentile held the Democratic and Working Families Party designations.
The Democrats barely contested this special election, vowing to wage a real campaign in this Staten Island-Brooklyn domain during the regular 2016 election cycle under what will likely be a full turnout model in the presidential year. Now that representative-elect Donovan will be the incumbent, doing so becomes more unlikely, however, as the national Democrats will move toward more logical targets elsewhere. Continue reading >
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 >
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 >