Tag Archives: Rep. Alcee Hastings

Alaska Rep. Young’s Passing Yields Chaotic Special Election Process

By Jim Ellis

Alaska’s At-Large Congressman, the late Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon)

March 22, 2022 — On Friday, the Dean of the House of Representatives, Alaska’s At-Large Congressman Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), passed away in an airplane flying back to his home state. The congressman, who was first elected in a 1973 special election, served in the House for 49 consecutive years, or just 14 years less than the time Alaska has been a state.

The congressman’s full and colorful national political career even began in an unusual way. As a sitting state legislator, he ran for Congress in 1972, opposite at-large Rep. Nick Begich (D). Less than a month before the election, however, Rep. Begich and then House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-LA) went down in a plane crash on a tour through the Last Frontier. With Boggs legally declared as missing, though it was imminently clear that all perished in the crash, he still defeated Young in the 1972 regular election.

Upon certification of Rep. Begich’s death, Don Young then won the succeeding special election in early 1973. He would never lose again. Coming full circle, Rep. Young’s 2022 opponent would likely have been Nick Begich III (D), the late congressman’s grandson.

While best wishes and remembrances for and about the congressional icon are coming from throughout the country, a potentially chaotic replacement process lies before the state’s governor to direct, and then for those who choose to become candidates.

Under Alaska law, a special election must be conducted to fill an electoral vacancy no less than 60 and no more than 90 days after the position is officially vacated. In this case, Young passed away on March 18. Therefore, at least the initial election must occur during the period between May 17 and June 16.

Because the state is changing its election procedure, much is unclear. An Alaska Department of Law spokesperson stated in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News that the agency personnel will review the applying statutes and prepare an advisory report for Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R).

In 2020, Alaska voters passed an initiative to change the state’s primary system. Thus, the state will now use a jungle primary format. Three other states, California, Louisiana, and Washington have jungle primaries, but in all of those places the top two finishers advance into the general election or post-election runoff. Louisiana holds its jungle primary concurrently with the regular general election so that a leading candidate with a percentage greater than 50 is elected outright.

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Minnesota Rep. Hagedorn, 59, Dies After Battle With Kidney Cancer

By Jim Ellis

The late Minnesota US Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester)

Feb. 22, 2022 — After a long battle with kidney cancer, Minnesota US Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester) passed away at the age of 59 on Friday, the third sitting House member to die in office during the current congressional session. Reps. Ron Wright (R-TX) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) passed away earlier in the year. Additionally, Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R-LA) died of COVID in late 2020, just before he would have taken office in January of 2021.

The Hagedorn death creates a vacancy in the Minnesota delegation. Gov. Tim Walz (D), who previously represented the now vacant 1st District that stretches the width of Minnesota’s southern border, will call a special election to fill the remainder of the current term.

Under the state’s election law, the special primary will be May 24, 11 weeks prior to the special general, which will run concurrent with the regular 2022 primary election on Aug. 9. The eventual winner will serve the balance of Hagedorn’s final term.

The current 1st District is politically marginal in congressional elections and has flipped back and forth between the two parties after Democrat Tim Penny won the seat in 1982, becoming the first member of his party to represent the district since 1893. Penny, former Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R) and Walz each would represent the district for six terms apiece until Hagedorn was elected.

Conversely, the 1st runs considerably stronger for Republicans at the top of the ticket. Former President Trump carried the seat both in 2016 and 2020. He posted a 53-38 percent margin in his initial election, and a 54-44% spread in his ultimately unsuccessful re-election effort.

Rep. Hagedorn’s two victories, however, were close contests. In his first victorious election, after failing in three previous attempts, the result was a tight 50.1 – 49.7 percent in a 2018 open-seat campaign against former defense department official Dan Feehan. The congressman then scored a 48.6 – 45.5 percent re-election victory again over Feehan.

A special election in this district could well be a strong precursor test for the 2022 midterms since both parties will field strong candidates, heavily contest the outcome, and the winner will likely claim the seat with only a small victory spread.

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The House Opens – Part I

By Jim Ellis

May 7, 2021 — With the number of House open and vacant seats continuing to grow, today we open a two-part series to update the status of each and begin to project where the most competitive incumbent-less districts might lie in 2022.

Adding the most recent retirement announcements or declarations for a different office, we see 16 districts that will introduce freshman members from their next election, eight from the Democratic side and an equal number of Republican seats. Of the 16, five are vacant and in special election cycles.

Today, we look at the Democratic open seats and tomorrow, the Republicans. The eight Democratic seats come from six states with another potential candidacy announcement coming shortly, at least based upon reading the Florida political tea leaves in association with this week’s gubernatorial race declaration from Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL).

Three of the five vacancies are on the Democratic side and will be filled in elections conducted from June 1 through Jan. 11 of next year. The other five Democratic openings result from retirement decisions (3) and members seeking a different office (2) with an additional open seat announcement apparently coming imminently in Florida as all indications suggest that Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) will soon announce her gubernatorial bid.


AZ-2 – Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick – retirement

Rep. Kirkpatrick had represented the 1st District for three non-consecutive terms beginning in 2009. She then ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2016 and returned in 2018 with a victory in the 2nd District. She was re-elected in 2020 with 55 percent of the vote. In March, Kirkpatrick announced that she would retire at the conclusion of the current Congress.

The reapportionment picture drastically changes the 2nd District political outlook. Originally, Arizona was projected to gain a seat, but did not once the official population figures were announced. Therefore, the Tucson anchored CD-2, expected to significantly change, is likely to remain closer to its current configuration.

If so, then the re-draw process will likely keep the 2nd in the Democratic column. The two leading early contenders to replace Rep. Kirkpatrick are state representative and surgeon Randy Friese (D-Tucson) and state Sen. Kirsten Engel (D-Tucson).

• President Biden carried the 2nd with a 54-44 percent margin.


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What Rep. Kevin Brady ‘s
Retirement From TX-8 Means

Texas’ 8th Congressional District – more change likely coming …

By Jim Ellis

April 16, 2021 — Veteran Texas Congressman Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands), who is the Republican’s ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee, announced Wednesday that his current 13th term will be his last as a member of the House. Brady, first elected in 1996 after serving three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, will retire at the end of the 117th Congress with 26 years of seniority.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands)

Rep. Brady is now the fifth Republican to announce he won’t seek re-election, but three of those are running for different offices. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) is a declared US Senate candidate; Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) is running for Georgia Secretary of State; and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has announced he plans to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) next year. Joining Brady in retiring from Congress is New York Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning). The 6th District of Texas, due to Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) death, is in special election and will likely be filled sometime in late June or early July.

Two Democrats are retiring, another Texan, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) and Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson). Four Democratic seats are currently in special election cycles, however: LA-2 (Rep. Cedric Richmond), NM-1 (Rep. Deb Haaland), OH-11 (Rep. Marcia Fudge), and FL-20 (Rep. Alcee Hastings). The first three Democratic vacancies are due to Biden Administration appointments of the listed members, while Rep. Hastings passed away last week.

Brady first came to office in an unusual manner. After qualifying for the original runoff election from the early March 1996 Texas primary, he defeated his Republican opponent with 53 percent of the vote in the secondary election a month later.

Post nomination, a federal court ruled that several Lone Star State districts were illegal for racial representation reasons and an immediate re-draw was ordered. Though Brady’s 8th District was not one of the seats deemed illegal, re-drawing an adjacent district labeled as such affected his seat. Therefore, he was again forced to run in another primary and runoff election, the latter against the same opponent he defeated earlier in the year. In all, Brady had to run in four elections all in the same year to capture the 8th District for the first time.

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Rep. Alcee Hastings Passes Away; Murkowski Trails Early in Alaska

By Jim Ellis

April 8, 2020 — After a long battle with pancreatic cancer, veteran Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) passed away Monday morning. The 84-year-old congressman was first elected in 1992, and his 28-plus years of congressional service elevated him as the dean of the Florida delegation.

Prior to his service in Congress, Hastings was a federal judge but found himself impeached and removed from the bench over financial impropriety in 1989. He then ventured into the electoral realm with a run for Secretary of State in 1990 where he failed to win the Democratic nomination. In post-redistricting 1992, with Florida gaining four seats in reapportionment, Hastings won a new seat from the region between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. He would never again be seriously challenged.

Rep. Hastings’ death opens Florida’s 20th District that encompasses parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties to a special election. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will eventually schedule a primary and special general to determine a successor who will serve the balance of the current term.

FL-20 is heavily Democratic (’20: Biden, 77-22 percent; ’16: Clinton, 80-18 percent), so the action will be in the partisan primary. Demographically, the seat divides racially as 53 percent black, 24 percent Hispanic, and 19 percent non-Hispanic white.

The gender breakdown favors the females: 51.3 percent. In terms of age, 14 percent are over 65, and 24.1 percent fall under age 18. A whopping 36 percent are foreign born. Concerning education, 83.2 percent have a high school degree, while just under 21 percent own a college degree. There are approximately 18,000 business entities within the district confines.

The House now has four Democratic vacancies and one Republican. Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Deb Haaland (D-NM) all resigned their House seats to accept positions in the Biden Administration. The lone Republican vacancy is due to Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-TX) death.

Alaska Senate

The Cygnal survey research company just released a poll of a hypothetical 2022 Alaska Senate race now that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) has drawn a significant opponent. It is probable that this is the first poll conducted in Alaska that accounts for the state’s newly installed jungle primary system that allows the top four qualifying finishers to advance into the general election.

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