Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor, has won the Republican runoff election against former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic. Neither candidate was able to secure 50% of the vote during the March 19th primary, but as the top-two vote getters, Sanford and Bostic were required to compete in a runoff election on April 2nd. Sanford, who represented this district in the 90’s won with 57% while Bostic garnered 43%. Sanford won four of the five counties voting in the runoff election. The only county to support Bostic was Beaufort. Sanford will now compete in the general election on May 7th against Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
2013 can hardly be described as an “off” election year. There are four federal special elections scheduled for 2013 (so far), and if you combine the number of primary, runoff and general election dates you will find a total of eight federal election dates on the calendar. Throw in the statewide elections held in VA, NJ, OH and WI and the number of significant election dates increases to 16. To help you keep track of the numerous elections held this year, below is an update on all the special elections scheduled for 2013.
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.
The special primary election to fill the vacancy in SC’s first congressional district was held yesterday. Former Rep. Tim Scott (R) was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January following the retirement of Sen. Jim DeMint (R). On the Democratic side, the outcome held no surprises as the only serious candidate was Elizabeth Colbert Busch – sister to comedian Stephen Colbert. Colbert won her primary challenge with 95.9% of the vote.
The Republican primary was a free-for-all with 16 candidates vying for the nomination. The front runner was former Gov. Mark Sanford who received the most votes Tuesday night and who will now advance to a runoff held April 2nd. Sanford needed 50% of the vote to win the nomination, but fell short with only 36.9% of the vote. The next highest vote getters were state Sen. Larry Grooms with 12.4% and Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic with 13.2% of the vote (99% precincts reporting). When a result is within one percentage point between second and third place, a recount is automatically held. As of Wednesday morning, Grooms conceded meaning no recount will be held and Bostic will face Sanford in the runoff.
The special general election will be held May 7th between Elizabeth Colbert Busch and the winner of the Republican runoff.
Stakes in the States
Two weeks ago, the nation’s highest court heard arguments against Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; an issue that is both complicated and sensitive and a ruling that thankfully it’s not my job to decide. But, while everyone is talking about the Sequester, I want to take this opportunity to draw your attention to such a noteworthy court case, the impacts it may have on 16 states, and the political implications that could follow.
In Shelby County v. Holder, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is being challenged under the claim that it poses an unconstitutional burden on specific states. Section 5 of the VRA requires nine states and cities or counties in seven additional states to “pre-clear” (or get permission) with the Department of Justice or a panel of three federal judges in D.C. before making any changes to their voting process: redistricting, voter ID laws, special election dates, etc. This was put into place in 1965 in order to protect any voters from discrimination based on racial or ethnic background. The Supreme Court upheld the law four years ago but essentially told Congress that it needed to review the legislation and determine if the formula for which states need to be covered, should be updated – the formula is thirty-five years old. Congress, being completely useless these days in passing meaningful legislation, did not heed the Court’s suggestion, and as a result, Section 5 of the law is now being challenged. I am no legal expert and could not even begin to weigh in on what the ruling will be or the merits of the challenge, but I do find the potential political implications of the outcome extremely important to consider.
The outcome of this challenge is expected to be decided this June. Of the 16 states affected, the nine states that are entirely covered include: Alaska, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. The seven states that are marginally covered via counties/townships are: Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, South Dakota, North Carolina, Florida and California. Several of these states have had little issue with the pre-clearance process and have been able to make the case that they should be exempt from the process, and therefore have been able to “bail-out”. The Department of Justice has tracked the number of objections it has issued to new or revised voting laws in all of the above states since the VRA was signed into law. The number of objections from bailed out states like New Mexico and Alaska totals one each. The majority of southern states, however, have had a greater challenge getting pre-clearance for legal changes.
Number of objections per state and most recent rejection date:
SC: 122 (2011) LA: 146 (2011) MS: 173 (2012) GA: 178 (2012) TX: 209 (2012)
Last cycle, voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina were objected by the Department of Justice, and redistricting laws for districts at all levels of government were objected in North Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Mississippi. This goes to show that in some states the preclearance process is still an active part of the voting law process.
So how has this law affected politics over the past four decades? Section 5 has ensured that congressional districts are drawn in a way that protects racial minority voters, in many states creating what are often referred to as “majority-minority” districts. According to Census analysis done by the Cook Political Report, the 113th Congress currently has 111 non-white majority or majority-minority districts. Democrats represent 87.4% of those districts, while Republicans represent 67.9% of majority white districts. If you take a step further at where those districts are located, you will find the majority of them fall within jurisdictions of Section 5 of the VRA. Of the nine states in which the entire state must be pre-cleared, 28 majority-minority districts are located within them – 15 of which are in Texas, 5 in Georgia, 2 in Virginia and Arizona, and 1 in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. And if you examine the seven states which are partially covered, 13 majority-minority districts are touched by those counties and townships.
If Section 5 is upheld, then it will only be a matter of time before it is challenged again and ultimately changed or ruled unconstitutional. For now, we know that Section 5 has protected many disenfranchised voters in a number of states over the last half-century. However, we also know that districts drawn to protect those voters have now created congressional districts that elect a racially divided Congress. The issue is a double edged sword and I do not envy the decision the Court has to make.
To see two different arguments for and against Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, see George Will’s article against here, or Donna Brazile’s article for here.
In the NFL, a “quarterback scramble” occurs when a QB is under pressure by an opposing team’s defense, he may run forward, backward, or laterally in an attempt to avoid being sacked. There’s no doubt we’ll see this more than once from Flacco and Kaepernick in Sunday’s Super Bowl 47. And like Sunday’s game, it’s not easy to make predictions about 2014 political outcomes. The current political environment has senators not only scrambling to avoid an impending sack, but they’re heading to the sidelines and in some cases leaving the game entirely. What’s potentially more interesting is how the recent scrambles in the Senate could affect other lineups in the House of Representatives and governors’ mansions in 2014.
As of today what we know about 2014 is there are 35 U.S. Senate races (2 specials: SC & HI) with 21 Democrats and 14 Republicans up for reelection. The most vulnerable seats are those of the seven Democrats representing states that Mitt Romney carried last November: Pryor (D-AR), Begich (D-AK), Landrieu (D-LA), Hagan (D-NC), Baucus (D-MT), Johnson (D-SD) and an open seat in West Virginia. The only Republican up in a state Barack Obama won is Susan Collins in Maine – and for the moment she looks pretty safe. It’s possible we might see one or two of these vulnerable D’s head to the sidelines before 2014 and join the other retirees we’ve seen in recent weeks (recap below). Overall the environment in the Senate provides a lot of opportunity for Republicans to get closer to gaining the six seats they need for a majority – although if you recall we’ve heard that story before. If Republicans don’t line up a large group of star QB’s (and soon) we could see a repeat of 2012.
West Virginia – Jay Rockefeller (D) does not plan to seek a sixth term to the Senate. Rockefeller was governor of WV prior to being elected to Congress in 1984. He now serves as Chairman of the Commerce Committee and Chair of Finance’s Subcommittee on Health Care. As a 75 year old public servant, the Senator has cited wanting more time to spend with his family. The open seat in WV poses a potential pick-up opportunity for Republicans – Mitt Romney won WV by 26 points last November. The graphic in this article demonstrates how WV has shifted from a blue to a red state over the past 40 years. However, it’s not an automatic lock for Republicans considering the governor’s mansion, the state legislature and the other Senate seat are all in Democratic hands.
Georgia - Saxby Chambliss (R) announced his 2014 retirement last Friday, stating the increased partisanship and lack of leadership in Washington as his reason for departure. Chambliss was a member of the “Gang of Six” and went out on a party limb conceding that tax increases may be necessary to solve the nation’s debt crisis, sparking several Republicans to begin weighing a primary challenge. Expect a crowded primary field and for the seat to remain in conservative hands, but it’s worth noting NC was the only other state Romney won by a smaller margin. Georgia’s rapid population growth has led to it becoming one of only 13 states that have a minority population of over 40%. Republicans’ inability to connect with minority voters could pose a challenge for them in the future.
Iowa - To the surprise of many, last Saturday Tom Harkin (D) announced he also would not seek another term in Congress. Harkin is Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and at age 73 said he is ready to step aside and let a younger crop of leaders serve. Harkin was not exactly an ally of the business community, receiving 0% on BIPAC’s P2 Voting Record for the 112th Congress. But his departure creates a competitive open seat that has both Republicans and Democrats in the state eyeing it closely. Iowa is considered a swing state, electing Barack Obama to the presidency twice, has a Republican governor, and split control in the state legislature.
*HI, SC, MA: It’s also worth noting the two departures in HI and SC have created special elections in 2014, and John Kerry’s (D) appointment as Secretary of State has created a special election in 2013 (primary 4/30 and general 6/25), the winner of which will run for another full term in 2014. All three of the departed/ing Senators from HI, SC and MA served on the Senate Commerce Committee.
The flurry of activity in the Senate is causing several members of Congress and other politicians to coyly posture themselves as they wait to see if there’s an opportunity to jump in a race (some not so coyly… Cory Booker anyone?). Democrats currently need a net of 17 seats to win control of the House, so unless a wave rolls through it looks like any significant changes will come from primary challenges, as well as open seats created as a result of Representatives hopping into Senate races or one of the 36 gubernatorial races. One Independent, 22 Republican and 13 Democratic governors are up for reelection in 2014, and 25 states have both U.S. Senate and governor’s races on the ballot. Expect to see a lot more shifting, scrambling and fleeing to the sidelines in the months to come… we’ll be keeping an eye on those 2nd and 3rd string players eager for their opportunity to come off the bench.
Monday, January 28 at noon, was the filing deadline for those wanting to run for the vacant South Carolina 1st congressional district seat. The seat became available when Governor Nikki Haley (R) appointed former representative Tim Scott (R) to the United States Senate. Former senator Jim DeMint (R) resigned from the Senate after his appointment to become President of The Heritage Foundation.
The candidate list consists of 16 Republicans and 3 Democrats. Some notable names are former Governor Mark Sanford and comedian, Stephen Colbert’s sister. Teddy Turner, whose father is left leaning media magnate Ted Turner, is fighting for the congressional seat not as Democrat but as a conservative Republican.
The special election primary will take place March 19, followed by the general election May 7.
Elizabeth Colbert Busch – business-development director at Clemson University; older sister of comedian Stephen Colbert
Ben Frasier – has lost 11 out of 13 primaries he has run in; former nominee for SC-1
Martin Skelly - businessman
Keith Blandford – Vice President/Lead Environmental Scientist for the Warrick Group; ran for SC-1 as a Libertarian in 2010 and 2012; served in the U.S. Army National Guard
Curtis Bostic – served in the U.S. Marine Corps; served on Charleston County Council for two terms
Ric Bryant – an unknown from Hanahan, SC
Larry Grooms – businessman; current State Senator
Jonathan Hoffman – small business owner; adjunct professor; U.S. Air Force reserve; former White House Director on the Homeland Security Council team
Jeff King – systems engineer for a military contractor
John Kuhn – businessman; tax attorney; former State Senator
Tim Larkin – Project Manager and Senior Systems Analyst at a Department of Defense contractor; Afghanistan War veteran
Chip Limehouse – small businessman; Charleston State Representative
Peter McCoy – Charleston State Representative; former criminal prosecutor in Solicitor Scarlett Wilson’s office
Elizabeth Moffly – businesswoman; Trustee on the Charleston County School Board; former candidate for State Superintendent of Education;
Ray Nash – recently resigned his position as the Criminal Justice Adviser for the US Embassy in Kabul; former Dorchester County Sheriff
Andy Patrick – small business owner; U.S. Air Force veteran; former Special Agent for the U.S. Secret Service
Shawn Pinkston – local attorney; former U.S. Army officer; Iraq War veteran; former military prosecutor
Mark Sanford – former Governor of South Carolina; former representative for SC-1
Teddy Turner – small business owner; high school teacher; son of media mogul Ted Turner
Although 2013 will be relatively quiet compared to the intensity and chaos of 2012, there are many events that will occur impacting policy and elections in 2014, 2015 and 2016. For an overview of moments that are flying both over and under the radar in 2013, view the graphic below. To see what’s “on the radar”, check out the dates in Blue, and to see what’s “under the radar” see the dates in Red.
A strong indication of who is going to win the Presidential election comes from exit polling results. A conglomerate of news outlets, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC and the AP, are responsible for creating preliminary results for viewers to get an early indication of who is going to win a certain state. This year, however, cutbacks have been put in place regarding how extensive the polling will be in certain states; in 19 states, AK, AR, DE, GA, HI, ID, KY, LA, NE, ND, OK, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV and WY, the barest form of polling will occur, as opposed to full reports being conducted in all states in election cycles past.
In previous election years, full reports were conducted in each state, with a series of questions posed to the people being interviewed. Among the questions were: for whom they were voting, which age group they belonged to, and which issues were most critical in leading up to a decision. Such reports will still be conducted in 31 states. In the other 19 states however, the exit polls have been stripped to a singular question of who the interviewed person is voting for. These polls are happening exclusively in non-battleground states where no surprises are expected to occur. One of the main disadvantages of this system is that extensive post-race analysis will not be available for all of the states.
The reasoning for such a system comes down to the conglomerate of news outlets wanting to dedicate their resources to the most critical states, thereby giving the public concise analysis in states that dictated the outcome of the election. Early voting has also proved to be a stumbling block for pollsters, who now are forced to conduct cell phone interviews, as opposed to in-person interviews, which has increased costs greatly.
While the citizens of every state will not be awarded with in-depth analysis of their state’s races, it serves a bigger purpose in giving the entire nation a better idea of where the Presidential races were won and lost.
Voters will elect at least 62 newcomers to the 113th Congress tomorrow. There are currently 62 open seats as a result of retirements, resignations & lost primary elections. For a list of where we can guarantee a new face see below.
OPEN SEATS (62)
AZ 1 HOLE
AZ 5 OPEN Flake (R)
AZ 9 ADDED
AR 4 OPEN Ross (D)
CA 1 OPEN Herger (R)
CA 2 OPEN Woolsey (D)
CA 8 OPEN Lewis (R)
CA 21 HOLE
CA 26 OPEN Gallegly (R)
CA 29 HOLE
CA 41 HOLE
CA 47 HOLE
CA 51 OPEN Filner (D)
CT 5 OPEN Murphy (D)
FL 3 Lost primary Stearns (R)
FL 6 HOLE
FL 9 ADDED
FL 19 OPEN Mack (R)
FL 22 ADDED
GA 9 ADDED
HI 2 OPEN Hirono (D)
IL 12 OPEN Costello (D)
IL 13 OPEN Johnson (R)
IN 2 OPEN Donnelly (D)
IN 5 OPEN Pence (R)
IN 6 OPEN Burton (R)
KY 4 OPEN Davis (R) VAC
MA 4 OPEN Frank (D)
MI 5 OPEN Kildee (D)
MI 11 OPEN McCotter (R) VAC
MO 2 OPEN Akin (R)
MT/AL OPEN Rehberg (R)
NV 1 OPEN Berkley (D)
NV 4 ADDED
NJ 10 OPEN Payne (D) VAC
NM 1 OPEN Heinrich (D)
NY 6 OPEN Ackerman (D)
NY 8 OPEN Towns (D)
NC 9 OPEN Myrick (R)
NC 11 OPEN Shuler (D)
NC 13 OPEN Miller (D)
ND A/L OPEN Berg (R)
OH 2 Lost primary Schmitt (R)
OH 3 HOLE
OH 14 OPEN LaTourette (R)
OK 1 Lost primary Sullivan (R)
OK 2 OPEN Boren (D)
PA 4 OPEN Platts (R)
PA 17 Lost primary Holden (D)
SC 7 ADDED
TX 14 OPEN Paul (R)
TX 16 Lost primary Reyes (D)
TX 20 OPEN Gonzalez (D)
TX 25 ADDED
TX 33 ADDED
TX 34 ADDED
TX 36 ADDED
UT 2 ADDED
WA 1 OPEN Inslee (D) VAC
WA 6 OPEN Dicks (D)
WA 10 ADDED
WI 2 OPEN Baldwin (D)
Recent State Court Decisions Strike Down Voter ID Laws While Public Supports Voting Protections
In 2012, a number of states have attempted to pass election laws requiring voters to show a photo ID when voting. The laws are all backed by Republicans and have been passed in Texas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and South Carolina as an attempt to prevent voter fraud. However, all of them have faced opposition in the courts with varying results.
A September 8-12 nationwide poll conducted by CBS News/New York Times showed that 70% of voters supported “efforts to require voters to show a photo identification card to vote” while 28% opposed voter ID measures. The poll shows that 76% of Independents, 94% of Republicans and 48% of Democrats support voter ID laws. Recent efforts to enact voter ID laws have become a political hot potato and have polarized elected Republicans and Democrats on an issue that at one time found bipartisan support as currently seen in polling numbers among voters.
According to data from the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), 27 states have passed voter ID laws that will be used in the 2012 election with another 6 states passing voter ID laws that will be used starting in 2013 pending final approval from either a court or state legislature.
Pennsylvania voters will technically be asked to show a photo ID on Election Day, but they won’t be turned away if they don’t have one. The court essentially ruled that it won’t be enforced until after the election. Wisconsin’s voter ID law was ruled unconstitutional in March by a Circuit Court Judge and again by another judge in July.
Newly passed voter ID laws in New Hampshire and Virginia were given pre-clearance by the Department of Justice and will be in effect this November.
Due to the Voting Rights Act, Texas and South Carolina need approval from the Justice Department or a special panel of federal judges in Washington if they want to change election procedures. A federal panel unanimously ruled against the Texas law at the end of August due to a provision in the enacted legislation that would have potentially imposed too high of a financial requirement for some voters.
The ruling on South Carolina’s law was similar to the one in Pennsylvania. The bipartisan, three judge panel in Washington upheld the law and established it as constitutional, saying there was nothing inherently discriminatory in the law. However, voters won’t be asked to show a photo ID this election. The law won’t officially be fully enforced until next election cycle.
The issue of having voters present photo identification to register to vote and to actually vote will continue at statehouses across the country over the next few years. The likelihood that additional cases will head to the U.S. Supreme Court remains high and look for the Court to attempt to provide clarity on one of the hottest issues in election matters.
There is a time for politics and a time for governing. The time for politics is over the time for governing is upon us.