Local & Special Elections Update – June 23, 2015

Here’s the local and special elections to watch today:

Wisconsin State Senate District 33 special election – The primary election is today in this solidly Republican state Senate district in the suburbs of Milwaukee.  There are three GOP candidates on the ballot, and today’s winner will be the overwhelming favorite against Democrat Sherryll Shaddock next month.  I outlined the framework for this contest just after the filing deadline in May – you can read that discussion here.  A review of the latest finance reports shows that State Rep. Chris Kapenga raised about $145,000 during this campaign, while Brian Dorow has taken in about $80,000.  Ordinarily, in trying to pick a winner in this type of race, I would side with an existing state legislator with such a decent lead in fundraising, but Dorow is well-known with lots of endorsements.  I think this race will be close.  Polls close in Wisconsin at 8 pm Central time.

Continue reading Local & Special Elections Update – June 23, 2015

Georgia HD 24 – A special election recap

If you follow Local & Special Elections on Twitter, you know that Sheri Gilligan did indeed win the Georgia House District 24 special election on Tuesday.  In fact, unofficial results show that she was just 2 votes short of a majority of the votes cast, which would have enabled her to win the seat outright.  As the numbers stand now, she starts as the favorite in the July 14 runoff with David Van Sant, who received 25% of the vote.

[Final unofficial election results can be found here.]

Here is a quick recap of the items highlighted in Monday’s preview: Continue reading Georgia HD 24 – A special election recap

Georgia HD 24 – Voter Turnout Update (as of 1pm)

The Forsyth County Elections Division is periodically posting the number of folks who have voted today in this special election by precinct on their website.  (Updates are planned after 3:30 and 5:30, with polls closing at 7.)

Here is my current estimate of voter turnout by precinct, using those numbers from Forsyth County and an analysis of the latest “Voter Absentee File” available on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website here:

Walk up
voters as of
1pm 6/16
Reg. Voters
(incl. inactive)
05-Coal Mtn 49 55 104 2,288 4.5%
07-Cumming 275 57 332 2,61212.7%
10-Midway 541 239 780 12,260 6.4%
15-Heardsville 143 135 278 5,899 4.7%
16-Otwell 343 174 517 9,125 5.7%
29-Polo 229 169 398 5,890 6.8%
Total1,580 8292,40938,074 6.3%


[Note that turnout is high in Cumming precinct since there is also a special election for Post 1 of Cumming City Council taking place today.]


Special Election – Georgia HD 24: A detailed analysis of campaign contributions in a local special election

There are two special elections in Georgia tomorrow, to fill vacancies in the state legislature in the Atlanta area.  Neither district will see a change in party control, as the only candidates on the ballot in both districts are from the party of the former officeholder.  In Georgia HD 55 (Fulton County), former State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D) resigned after pleading guilty to tax fraud and no contest to wire and mail fraud.  Six Democratic candidates and an Independent are vying to replace him.  In Georgia HD 24 (Forsyth County), former State Rep. Mark Hamilton (R) resigned when he moved out-of-state.  Four Republicans are on the ballot to replace him.

If one only focuses on elections which can potentially change the partisan composition of a legislative body, these two contests would not be significant.  However, I chose to perform some in-depth and unique analysis on one of these two races, which might lead to new insights into voter behavior in similar local elections. Continue reading Special Election – Georgia HD 24: A detailed analysis of campaign contributions in a local special election

South Carolina State House District #106

Candidate filing closed on Monday for the special election in this State House district in Horry County in northeastern South Carolina. The seat is vacant after 5-term Republican Nelson Hardwick resigned amid sexual harassment allegations made earlier this year.

The primary election will take place on July 28th.  The seat is reliably Republican, which explains why only 4 GOP candidates filed:

Russell Fry – attorney and County party committee member
Sanford Cox Graves – former prosecutor, judge & county attorney
Tyler Servant – Horry County Councilman
Roy Sprinkle – podiatric surgeon

Rhode Island House District #33

There is a very interesting special election today in Rhode Island House of Representatives District #33.  I’ll post some thoughts here, and hopefully continue them on Twitter later today.

HD #33 is along the south-central coastline.  The vacancy was created back in March when longtime State Rep. Donald Lally (D) resigned to spend more time with his family.  Lally was first elected in 1989, so he served almost 14 terms.

The current party breakdown in the Rhode Island House of Representatives is overwhelmingly Democratic: 62 Dems, 11 GOP and 1 Independent.

Lally was unopposed in both the Democratic primary and the general election in 2014, but when he drew an opponent in the general election in recent years, the voting has been close:

2006 – Defeated Karen Salvatore (R), 52% – 48%
2008 – Received just 39% in a four-candidate field which included a Republican and two independent candidates
2010 – Defeated Philip Duquette (R), 53% – 47%
2012 – Defeated Robert Trager (R), 58% – 42%

There are four candidates on the ballot:

Carol Hagan McEntee (D) is a councilwoman in South Kingstown (one of the two towns comprising the district). She won a three-way Democratic primary on May 5th by less than 75 votes.
Robert Trager (R) was the 2012 nominee against Lally.
C. Elizabeth Candas (I) is a former teacher and businessperson.
James McKnight (I) is a sales manager at a local chemical firm.

President Obama carried the district in 2012 over Mitt Romney, 59% – 39%; however that was with Presidential-level turnout. In 2014, in the down-ballot races of Secretary of State, Attorney General, and State Treasurer, the Democratic candidates averaged only 55% of the vote in the district.

Voter turnout in the May 5 Democratic Primary was less than 12 %.  Voter turnout statewide in the 2012 Presidential Election was over 60%.

While Democratic State Rep. Lally was elected and re-elected here multiple times, there are plenty of GOP votes in this district.  Furthermore, the Democratic primary just five weeks ago was very closely contested and included an ethics complaint against Susan Cicilline-Buonanno, who finished second.  My conclusion? This election will certainly test the conventional wisdom that “low-turnout” special elections favor Republicans, as I will actually be surprised if the Democrats can hold this seat under these conditions.

Local & Special Election Results from June 2, 2015

I wasn’t able to tweet or post results from yesterday’s contests, so here is a quick summary:

MI-01 (Mississippi 1st Congressional District Special Election Runoff – Republican Trent Kelly easily defeated Democrat Walter Zinn, 70%-30%.

Denver City Council runoffs – Voter turnout in all four City Council runoff elections was approximately 20%.  Also, three of the four races were close, with the margin of victory in those cases being about 500 votes or less.  As noted yesterday, in all four districts, there was no incumbent running.  Kevin Flynn (CD #2), Jolon Clark (CD #7), Wayne New (CD #10), and Stacie Gilmore (CD# 11) were the winners.

Riverside, California, City Council Elections and Ballot Question – Incumbent Ward 1 Councilmember Michael Gardner easily won re-election against Tom Podgorski, 71%-29%.  The incumbent in Ward 7 did not seek re-election; there John Burnard defeated Alysia Webb, 82%-18%.

The measure to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the County failed, 60%-40%, with almost 23,000 votes cast.

Sacramento, California, Streetcar Community Facilities District – The ballot measure which would have authorized a bond issuance and tax levy to fund the city’s streetcar project failed, 52%-48%.  It would have required a two-thirds majority to be approved, so it lost significantly.

Local & Special Elections Update – June 2, 2015

Elections to watch today:

Mississippi 1st Congressional District Special Election Runoff – (Northeastern Mississippi)

This vacancy was created by the February death of Congressman Alan Nunnelee (R).  The first round of voting was on May 12th, with 13 candidates on the ballot.  Winner with 17% was attorney Walter Zinn, the only Democrat in the field.  Second with 16% was District Attorney Trent Kelly, who defeated 11 other Republicans to get this spot in the runoff.  The district is solidly Republican, so expect Kelly to consolidate GOP support and win fairly easily.

Denver City Council

Four of 13 City Council seats have runoff elections today.  All are in districts where there was no incumbent on the ballot back on May 5th. Incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock won re-election then with 80% of the vote.

Riverside, California (near Los Angeles)

Voting ends today for local elections in this eastern suburb of Los Angeles.  Ballots are being cast entirely by mail and must be either dropped off or postmarked by today.

Four of eight seats on the Riverside City Council are up for election, but only two are contested.  In Ward 1, incumbent Mike Gardner is being challenged by Tom Podgorski.  The Ward 7 seat is open.

There is also a ballot initiative to allow and regulate facilities which would dispense medical marijuana in the County.  Approval of the initiative would permit as many as ten such locations.  The Mayor and several members of City Council are opposed to the measure.  Polls show it is not likely to pass.

Sacramento, California

Another noteworthy election-by-mail is taking place in California’s capital, where voters are deciding the fate of a proposed streetcar project which would run through the middle of the city and connect City Hall with the Convention Center and State Capitol buildings.  The ballot measure would authorize a bond issuance of up to $38 million and the levy of a special tax for funding.  The total cost of the project is estimated at $150 million, with federal, state, and other local jurisdictions providing the remaining funding.