Latest News – Filing Deadlines
This past week, candidate filing closed in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Dakota. Though there were no last minute retirements in those states, three incumbent Republicans in Alabama escaped partisan opposition, which now means that there are 20 House seats (3 held by Democrats and 17 held by Republicans) that are guaranteed not to change partisan hands. Congressional candidate filing also closed this afternoon in Virginia. Though we do not yet have a finalized list of candidates there, we do know that as of Thursday, two Republican incumbents were unopposed.
Virginia notwithstanding, candidate filing has closed in 26 states representing 240 House seats (out of 435). Next week will see Congressional filing close in New Jersey, and on April 30, Florida and Georgia have filing deadlines. Bottom line: by the end of this month, we will know who the Congressional candidates are in over 2/3 of the House seats, and in 30 of 50 states.
Latest News – Retirements
Today, in a fairly major news event, pro life Democrat Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), whose 11th hour compromise enabled healthcare reform to pass, decided to retire after 18 years in the House. This is a boost for the GOP, because the fact that this 50% Obama district re-elected Rep Stupak with 65% of the vote in 2008 meant that we previously classified this district as safe from the “Obama plunge” (explained here). We are therefore reclassifying this seat now as a likely GOP pickup, and our projection of GOP House gains is now 80 seats (methodology explained here).
Latest News – Upcoming Primaries/Special Elections
So far, only Illinois and Texas have held primaries. However, primary season is fast approaching, with May 4 being primary day in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio. Special election season is also approaching as well, and is being watched extensively by both parties’ strategists as evidence of voter sentiment in the aftermath of healthcare reform’s passage. The first special election is next Tuesday in a heavily Jewish district in South Florida. Normally, this district (home of the “butterfly ballot”), which gave 66% of the vote to both John Kerry and Barack Obama, wouldn’t even be on the radar of either political party. However, the aftermath of the healthcare vote, as well as President Obama’s conduct towards Israel, means that Democratic state senator Ted Deutch has a potential fight on his hands from 2008 GOP nominee Ed Lynch and a third party candidate. Additionally, the theory of the “Obama plunge” suggests that the Democratic percentage next Tuesday will be in the 51-54% range. If this were to happen, it would not be unreasonable to expect massive Democratic defeats this fall in less heavily Democratic districts across the country.
After the Florida race, there is the May 18 special election to succeed the late John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) in a 49% McCain (but 51% John Kerry) district. The Republican candiate is running competitively here, although May 18 also happens to be the date of the Pennsylvania primary. And at the top of the primary ballot are contested races for senator and governor on the Democratic (but not the Republican) side.
The last special election race we are watching is the May 22 “winner take all” election in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional district, which basically is the city limits of Honololu and is a marginally Democratic seat. This race promises to be interesting for several reasons: (1) the last time a Republican represented the district was from 1987-1991; (2) Barack Obama grew up in the area and carried the district with a whopping 70%; (3) this is a “winner take all” district, with a credible Republican facing two serious Democrats. One Democrat (Ed Case) formerly represented Hawaii in Congress from an adjacent district and has the blessing of Washington Congressional insiders. The other Democrat is the State Senate President and is an Asian-American woman who has the staunch support in this “majority minority” district from Hawaii’s all Democratic Congressional delegation. Not only is racial solidarity at play here, but there is also lingering resentment from the Hawaii Democratic establishment against Ed Case for his 2006 primary challenge against a three term incumbent Democratic Senator – a huge “no no” in the “wait your turn” political culture in Hawaii.