Special Elections Update – December 7, 2015

I’m back.

Hopefully you were wondering why there was an absence of posts on this site during the last few weeks.  If not, feel free to skip over the next paragraph.

I had always planned on taking a little time off from the site after Election Day.  Unfortunately, that absence was a little longer than expected due to some family and technology issues, but those have all been resolved now.

2016 will (obviously) be a very busy election year.  The number of state legislative races which are competitive in November continues to shrink each year.  Therefore, control of State Houses and State Senates is increasingly decided by what happens at candidate filing deadlines and in primaries, so look for more analysis of those going forward.

Now to the updates.  There are four key special election developments tomorrow:

  • In AL HD-05, there is a Republican primary runoff to determine who will face Democrat Henry White in a special election in February 2016.  This district includes the city of Athens, Alabama, in Limestone County in the northern part of the state, and the seat is vacant due to the death of State Rep. Dan Williams (R) during the summer.  The current party composition of the Alabama State House is 70 Republicans and 33 Democrats, with 2 seats vacant.

There were five Republican candidates who met in a September 29th primary.  Athens City Councilman Chris Seibert led the field with 39% of the vote, followed by former Athens City Councilman Danny Crawford with 33%.  The other 3 candidates have refrained from endorsing either of tomorrow’s runoff participants.

  • In IA HD-21 in southwestern Iowa, there is a special election to fill the vacancy left by the passing of State Rep. Jack Drake (R) in October.  In Iowa, primaries are not held for special elections, so candidates are determined at special nominating conventions.  Retired teacher Tom Moore is the GOP candidate, and businessman Tim Ennis is the Democratic candidate.

Mr. Ennis ran for this seat against the late Rep. Drake in 2014 but was defeated handily, 64%-36%.  Even with increased Democratic turnout driven by the presidential election, Rep. Drake won easily, 57%-43%, in 2012.  Also, the Democratic nominee is from rural Adams County, which is the least populated county in the state and where less than 20% of tomorrow’s votes are expected to be cast.  The current composition of the Iowa State House is 56 Republicans and 43 Democrats.

  • In Minnesota State House District 3A in the Duluth area in the far northeastern corner of the state, there is a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of State Rep. David Dill (DFL) in August.  As in AL-05, party primaries here were held at the end of September.  Koochiching County Commissioner Rob Ecklund defeated businessman Bill Hansen and two other candidates with 44% of the vote to become the DFL nominee.  Former Ely Mayor Roger Skraba was unopposed in the Republican primary.

This area is comfortably Democratic, as all DFL statewide candidates carried this district in 2014 by margins of between 15 and 22 points.  The current party composition of the Minnesota State House is 72 Republicans and 60 Democrats, with 2 seats vacant.

  • Kentucky’s Governor and other state executive officers will be sworn in tomorrow, meaning that State Auditor-elect Mike Harmon (R) and State Agriculture Commissioner-elect Ryan Quarles (R) will be resigning their State House seats in KY-54 and KY-62, respectively.  Governor-elect Matt Bevin (R) will likely call for special elections in both districts shortly.

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