Local & Special Elections Update – February 24, 2015

The last Tuesday in February is here with voting we’re following in three states (Illinois, Connecticut, and South Carolina).  Here’s what’s happening:

Chicago Mayor and Aldermen – The biggest election so far this year takes place in the city of Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is running for a second term.  Most polls show him comfortably winning today, with the main question being whether he will get the greater than 50% he needs to avoid a round of runoff voting on April 7.  Jesus “Chuy” Garcia seems likely to finish second.  Also, all 50 of Chicago’s Aldermen (City Council) are being voted on today as well.

There is some amazing coverage and analysis of Chicago’s elections at these two sites: www.aldertrack.com and http://illinoiselectiondata.com/.  I recommend them both very highly.

Connecticut is holding 3 special elections today for seats in their state legislature.  In State Senate District 23 (Bridgeport), Democratic Sen. Andres Ayala, Jr. just won re-election in November, but resigned to become the director of the state department of motor vehicles.  Connecticut does not hold primaries for special elections, so party nominees are chosen by local party committee meeting.  However, individual candidates can petition to be placed on the ballot by obtaining signatures, which are based on turnout from the most recent election.  In this race, there are two “petitioning” candidates, in addition to the party nominees:

  • Richard DeJesus (D)
  • Quentin Dreher (R)
  • Ed Gomes (Working Families)
  • Charles Hare
  • Kenneth Moales

Ed Gomes held this State Senate seat for 3 terms before losing the Democratic primary in 2012 to Ayala, and was also a longtime member of the Bridgeport City Council.  And Moales serves on the Bridgeport Board of Education, so there’s no shortage of prominent Democrats in this race.  Now, I’m not suggesting that the Republican nominee has a chance given how strongly Democratic this district is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the endorsed party nominee (DeJesus) ran into some trouble here.

In Connecticut State House District #107 (Brookfield), Republican David Scribner served for over 15 years, but resigned in December to join the state Liquor Control Commission.  The Republican Party selected attorney and Brookfield Board of Education member Steve Harding, while Democrats nominated businessman and former selectman Howard Lasser.  Scribner won his last few elections by large margins, given his longevity, but this district only went 53-46 for Romney in 2012.  Republicans always tend to turn out better for these types of special elections, so Harding has the edge, but this race could be close.

In Connecticut State House District #129 (Bridgeport), Democrat Auden Grogins served since 2008 before being appointed by Gov. Malloy to a seat on the Connecticut Superior Court in January.  Just like in SD #23, the field is crowded to replace her, with the two party nominees and three candidates who obtained enough signatures to be on the ballot:

  • Steven Stafstrom (D)
  • Enrique Torres (R)
  • Robert T. Keeley
  • Robert E. Halstead
  • Hector Diaz

Both Keeley and Diaz are former Democratic State Representatives, so the Democratic vote is likely to be split somewhat.  However, the district voted for Obama 78-22 in 2012, making Torres a longshot at best.  That said, just like in SD #23 above, I wouldn’t be shocked if one of the petitioning candidates finished on top.

Finally, in South Carolina, three Republicans are battling in the primary in State House District #63 (Florence) to replace Kris Crawford (R), who resigned for personal reasons.  Robby Hill, Elijah Jones, and Jay Jordan are on the ballot, and there’s been some significant money raised for this election, by all three candidates.  Here is the financial data for this contest based on campaign finance reports filed through February 9th:

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That’s over $130,000 in total, and those numbers are from two weeks ago, so it’s safe to say this race has generated a lot of interest.  Hill is a member of the Florence City Council, Jones has been involved in local Republican politics, and Jordan ran for Congress in 2012, finishing third in a GOP primary and catching the attention of the National Republican Congressional Committee.  And to top it off, there has been freezing rain and ice pellets on and off in the area all day.  I’m guessing that none of the three here wins outright with more than 50%, which would produce a runoff in just two weeks time on March 10.  I’ll also predict that Jordan’s experience and connections make him a favorite to make the runoff, along with Hill.

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