U.S. House: South Carolina-01
A special election in SC’s 1st Congressional District is being held to fill the vacancy created by former Rep. Tim Scott (R) who was appointed to the Senate in January of this year. Sen. Scott was chosen to replace retiring Sen. Jim DeMint (R) who left the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. The primary for the House seat (held Tuesday, March 19th) has provided an enormous amount of entertainment for those following the race closely.
The Democratic nominee is Elizabeth Colbert Busch – sister to comedian Stephen Colbert. Although she’s seen as the underdog in this race, Colbert Busch has great name ID, strong connections in the community, and the ability to fundraise. And having a famous brother doesn’t hurt. She currently works for Clemson University’s Restoration Institute as Director of Business Development.
The Republican primary had over 16 candidates vying for the nomination. Top vote getter was former Gov. Mark Sanford who left office amid a personal scandal. Prior to being governor he actually served in this district but term-limited himself and left in 2001. He received 37% of the vote, but needs 50% in order to avoid a runoff. He will compete in the runoff on April 2nd, against former Charleston City Councilman Curtis Bostic.
The winner will compete in the general against Colbert Busch on May 7th. This is a conservative district and the eventual Republican nominee has a strong advantage. One thing to note – Colbert-Busch’s name will appear on the ballot twice, once as the Democratic nominee and again as the nominee for the Working Families Party. SC is one of eight states that allow candidates endorsed by multiple parties to appear on the ballots separately for each one.
U.S. House: Illinois-02
Illinois has scheduled a special election for their 2nd Congressional District in order to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D), who resigned for health and ethical reasons in November of last year. The primary election has already taken place (February 26th), and the general election will be on April 9th between Republican Paul McKinley and Democrat Robin Kelly.
Robin Kelly (D) earned headlines thanks to significant outside support from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) who turned this primary into a race about gun control. His Super PAC spent over a million dollars on the race, targeting former Rep. Debbie Halvorson’s (D) positions on gun control.
In complete irony, the winner of Republican primary was Paul McKinley, a reformed ex-convict who served time in jail for armed robbery. I would expect nothing less from Chicago politics. This district is a very liberal seat and Kelly is expected to be the newest member of Congress as soon as the general election is held April 9th.
U.S. House: Missouri-08
Missouri’s 8th Congressional District will hold a special election on June 4th in order to replace former Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R), who resigned in January of this year. Emerson now serves as CEO for the National Rural Cooperative Association in Washington, D.C. No primary election was held for this seat. Instead the local parties selected their respective nominees from a field of multiple candidates earlier this year. The general election will be a three-way race between Jason Smith (R), Steve Hodges (D), and Bill Slantz (Lib).
Jason Smith is a state representative, small business owner and is 32 years old. Steve Hodges, the Democratic nominee, is also a state representative for Missouri and has served for six years. The Libertarian candidate, Bill Slantz owns his own consulting firm. This is a very conservative district (apparently it includes Rush Limbaugh’s home town…), and Republican nominee Jason Smith is expected to easily win the special election in June.
U.S. Senate: Massachusetts
Due to the resignation of Sen. John Kerry (D) to become Secretary of State, Massachusetts will hold a special election to elect a new U.S. Senator. Governor Deval Patrick (D) appointed William “Mo” Cowan (D) as interim senator to fill the seat until the new senator is sworn in, however, Cowan will not run in the special election. The primary election for the new senator will take place on April 30th.
On the Democratic side, the two candidates vying for the nomination are both current members of Congress: Ed Markey (CD 5) and Stephen Lynch (CD 8). Markey is the establishment choice for this seat and has the support of the national party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Markey has served in the House since 1977. Lynch is running as the “Washington outsider”, playing on Markey’s reputation for rarely spending time in the state. Lynch is consistently rated as the most conservative member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. The most recent polls have Markey leading Lynch 35% to 24% with 40% undecided. The majority of voters expected to turn out in an off-year special election will probably be more liberal, definitely giving Markey a strong advantage.
The candidates on Republican side are fairly unknown: State Rep. Dan Winslow, Former U.S. Attorney and former acting Director of ATF, Michael Sullivan and businessman and former Navy Seal Gabriel Gomez. Few polls have been conducted for the Republican primary since former Sen. Scott Brown announced he wasn’t running, but the most recent numbers show Sullivan with 28%, state Rep. Winslow with 10% and Gomez with 8% of support.
Both Democratic candidates lead each of the Republican candidates in every match up. Despite the fact that the majority of Massachusetts registered voters are Independent, this seat is likely to stay in Democratic hands. The winner of the special election will serve in Kerry’s seat until the end of his term in January, 2015 and if he chooses to run for reelection will compete in 2014 mid-terms.