Jan. 13, 2017 — Continuing our review of the eight known open House districts, today’s update concludes with the final four seats either headed to a special election or whose electorate will choose a new incumbent in the regular 2018 cycle.
NM-1: Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) has already announced that she will enter the open 2018 governor’s campaign. Incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is ineligible to seek a third term in office. The 1st District houses the city of Albuquerque and 95 percent of the state’s dominant county, Bernalillo. So far, no one has yet come forward to declare an official congressional candidacy, but many Democratic state and local officials would be well positioned to run. For Republicans, should they choose not to run for governor, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and outgoing Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry would become prospective congressional contenders.
SC-5: President-Elect Donald Trump’s choice of South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-Lancaster/Rock Hill) as Director of the Office of Management & Budget yields a special election in the north-central section of the state soon after the confirmation process concludes. The Palmetto State is very clear in terms of the special election schedule, thus leaving Gov. Nikki Haley (R) with no wiggle room pertaining to the campaign calendar. The primary contests will occur on the 11th Tuesday following an official declaration of the vacant seat. The run-offs, if necessary, will come on the 13th Tuesday after an official vacancy, with the general election transpiring on the 18th succeeding Tuesday. This means the special election cycle will consume just over four months. Therefore, if Mulvaney is confirmed sometime in February, we can expect a new 5th District Representative at a point in June.
Nov. 17, 2016 — This week also brings us the 2018 election cycle’s first open seat. South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem (R-AL) announced that she will run for governor in the next election. Incumbent Dennis Daugaard (R) is ineligible to run for a third term under South Dakota election law, so the open seat is guaranteed.
The timing of her announcement, extremely early in the brand new election cycle, directly related to a new South Dakota election law. Beginning today, a new campaign finance initiative, passed by voters last week, takes effect. This will limit to $4,000 the amount an individual or entity can contribute to a South Dakota statewide candidate. By officially declaring herself a candidate Tuesday, Noem can still transfer all $1.9 million remaining in her congressional campaign account to her new gubernatorial campaign committee. Obviously, this will give her a major advantage in preparing for a different statewide run.
The congresswoman can count on drawing tough primary and general election opponents, however. Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) has also indicated his intention to run, and many others are soon likely to follow suit.
We can now expect a spirited battle for the open at-large congressional race, particularly in the Republican primary. Even though this race has almost one and one-half years remaining before any votes are cast, the new 2018 election cycle is apparently already underway.
June 8, 2016 — In addition to being the final major presidential primary yesterday, five states were deciding congressional primaries. The North Carolina campaigns were covered in our report yesterday.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both clinched their respective political party nominations as expected last night through major primaries in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota (Democratic Caucus only), and South Dakota.
The state’s jungle primary format qualified the top two finishers in every race for the November general election, irrespective of political party preference. The most competitive situations follow:
The open Senate race (Sen. Barbara Boxer-D retiring) will likely advance a pair of Democrats to the general election for the first time in state history. Both Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) are expected to respectively place first and second. The fact that California allows voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day means a count that will take days to finalize. Ms. Harris would be favored in such a general election contest.