The special primary election for the U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey concluded with few surprises on Tuesday. The seat became vacant in June when Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) passed away. Gov. Chris Christie (R) chose to set the date for the special election prior to the statewide elections held in November, hence the August primary date.
Most of the action was held on the Democratic side, as Newark Mayor Cory Booker faced off against two sitting members of Congress as well as the House Assembly Speaker, Sheila Oliver. Despite Rep. Frank Pallone and Rep. Rush Holt having federal office experience, the national notoriety and popularity of Booker was too much to overcome, and he easily won the nomination. On the Republican side, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan handily defeated a lesser known challenger, Dr. Alieta Eck, for the Republican nomination.
Booker (D) and Lonegan (R) will square off in the general election scheduled for October 16th. The latest polling numbers have Booker up significantly in the general match up. Additionally, New Jersey is a solidly blue state and hasn’t seen a Republican win a U.S. Senate seat since Richard Nixon was president. However, Lonegan is said to be a fierce campaigner and will certainly shake up the dialogue around the race.
Check back in October for a general election recap and results.
What is a recall election? It is a procedure that allows citizens to remove and replace an elected official before the end of their term. Recalls can be used to rid the office of a corrupt or incompetent leader, for partisan politics, or removing officials for a policy position. It is estimated that a majority, three-fourths, of recall elections are at city council or school board level, though there have been increasing instances of recalls at the state level. Nineteen states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, GA, ID, IL, KS, LA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NJ, ND, OR, RI, WA and WI) and the District of Columbia currently allow recalls of state officials. In the past three years, several states have seen state elected officials face recalls, including WI, AZ, MI and currently, CO.
State Level Recalls since 2010 (according to National Conference of State Legislatures)
The gun control bills causing such uproar in CO, passed in the 2013 legislative session by the Democratically-controlled CO state legislature, were the first such bills passed in over ten years. This is a hot topic issue in a state that is well known for the Columbine High School and Aurora shootings, but is also known for its bipartisan passion of hunting and sport shooting.
A group behind the recall, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund (501 (c)(4) non-profit), was set up in February in response to the passed gun legislation. The founding members say the main issue is about legislators not listening to their constituents. Originally, four Democrats were targeted to be recalled, including Sen. Evie Hudak (D) of Westminster and Rep. Mike McLachlan (D) of Durango but only the recall attempts for Sens. Morse and Giron gained enough signatures. Former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin (R) is challenging Morse and former police officer Georgia Rivera (R) of Pueblo is challenging Giron.
Money has been pouring into the elections, with Giron and Morse raising nearly a quarter million dollars, and receiving thousands of dollars from Colorado liberal groups. Recall supporters have been sending their funds to the Basic Freedom Defense, and the NRA has helped with mailers and phone banks. According to El Paso and Pueblo county clerks, the elections will cost somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000.
Even if the recall attempts are successful, Democrats will still hold the majority in the Senate, 18-17. However, supporters of the recall still hope this will send messages to legislators in CO and across the country.
This blog part one of a four part series where BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House Crossover districts. House Crossover districts are the Congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House Crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and nine incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see full the list of House Crossover districts visit the Political Analysis page of the BIPAC Portal here.
Gary Miller (R, CA-31)
Rep. Miller was elected to Congress in 1998 and is serving in his 8th term. Miller was reelected in 2012 beating his opponent by 10.4%. What’s unique about Miller’s race is that due to California’s new top-two primary system, Miller ran in the general election against another Republican, making the race less competitive – hence the victory of 10+ points. But, this is a swing district and the President outperformed Miller winning by a margin of 16.6%. As a result, Democratic Party operatives and potential Democratic candidates are honing in on this district as a potential pick up. Several possible challengers have lined up including former Rep. Joe Baca (D) and Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) who was backed by the DCCC in 2012. The two that emerge from the top two primary will face a competitive general election. Miller has even been rumored to be looking at friendlier districts. The issue that will mostly likely define Miller’s reelection chances is immigration – 44% of the 31st district’s voting age population is Hispanic.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, FL-27)
In 2012, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen was easily reelected for a 12th full term by more than 23 points. However, President Obama also carried the 27th district by more than 6%, demonstrating the swing nature of this district. Despite the Democratic tilt of the 27th, Ros-Lehtinen’s background as the first Cuban-American and Hispanic woman elected to Congress, her leadership prowess as former Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and her ability to reach across the aisle and break with party on issues important to her district has enabled her to remain very popular with voters in Florida. As of today, few challengers are reported for 2014, but because of the demographic and partisan makeup of the district, it is likely we will ultimately see a Democratic challenger. However, the reputation and leadership of the Congresswoman ensures she will likely win reelection regardless of any election challenges.
Erik Paulsen (R, MN-3)
Rep. Paulsen was elected in 2008 and has never won reelection with less than 58% of the vote. The 3rd district supported President Obama in both 2008 with 51% of the vote and again in 2012, edging Mitt Romney out by 4,000 votes. This district (which includes the Mall of America) has a minority population of 17% and, although it tilts conservative, it remains competitive for all candidates on the ballot. While this district would typically be on Democrats’ radars, the popularity of Paulsen on both sides of the aisle coupled with his position on the House Ways and Means Committee make him a lower priority target. Paulsen is frequently considered for statewide office in Minnesota but he chose not to run for Senate in 2014 and is concentrating on business-focused issues and economic policy in the House.
Joe Heck (R, NV-3)
Rep. Heck won election to a second term in 2012 by 7.5% in a district the President carried by a narrow margin of 0.8%. Heck was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and was able to hang on in 2012 thanks to a weak Democratic opponent. However, he is actively being targeted in 2014 by the Democratic House Majority PAC primarily because of his stances on immigration and the fact that he lives in a substantially Hispanic district. DNC Committeewoman Erin Bilbray-Kohn (D) has already announced her intention to run. Heck has the support of the NRCC and is part of their 2014 Patriot Program. This help will be needed due to the turmoil and disorganization within the state Republican Party in Nevada. Ultimately, how the immigration debate plays out in the House could define Heck’s reelection campaign.
Ann Kirkpatrick (D, AZ-1)
Rep. Kirkpatrick was first elected to the U.S. House in 2008, lost reelection in 2010, but was victorious again in 2012. She ran in Arizona’s 1st district which was an open seat and won with only 48.8% of the vote with a 3.6% margin of victory (Interesting note: the Libertarian candidate received 6% of the vote). Kirkpatrick has already been targeted by the NRCC and is part of the DCCC’s Frontline Program that protects vulnerable Democrats. In 2012, she benefited greatly from redistricting and high turnout among Native American and Hispanic voters. A Republican challenger has already announced his intention to run – State Rep. Adam Kwasman (R), who managed Jesse Kelly’s failed campaign against Gabby Giffords in 2010. This race will undoubtedly be a close contest.
Collin Peterson (D, MN-7)
Rep. Peterson is a 12-term congressman known as a centrist legislator willing to work across the aisle to get meaningful policy enacted. He won reelection handily in 2012 with a 25.5% margin of victory. His district has some of the most productive farming in the country and was carried by Mitt Romney by nearly 10%. Despite the district supporting Republican gubernatorial and presidential candidates in recent cycles, Peterson has managed to carry this district for two decades. However, Peterson is just shy of 70 years old and his low fundraising reports have sparked rumors covered by National Journal, Roll Call and Daily Kos that he may not run for reelection. He raised about $93,800 in the second fundraising quarter and has just $205,000 cash on hand. As of today, he has not publically announced if he plans to run next year. As ranking member of the Agriculture Committee it is assumed he would like to see a solution to the Farm Bill before leaving Congress. As of today no serious challengers have announced.
Next month will be part two of the four part House Crossover District series.
There is a time for politics and a time for governing. The time for politics is over the time for governing is upon us.