Local & Special Elections – February 16, 2016

Here are the local and special elections of interest today:

Alabama

The spotlight contest is in Alabama State House District #5 (Athens), where former Athens city councilman Danny Crawford (R) faces former State Rep. Henry White (D) to fill the vacancy caused by the passing of Rep. Dan Williams (R) last summer.  Rep. Williams unseated Mr. White in 2010 and won a rematch in 2014, taking about 56% of the vote each time.  And while the Democrat likely started this campaign with greater name recognition, the Republican nominee, Mr. Crawford, has emerged from a five-candidate GOP primary in September (that we analyzed here), and defeated current Athens city councilman Chris Seibert in a December runoff (that we analyzed here).  Those two rounds of voting have surely elevated Mr. Crawford’s profile, especially among reliable GOP voters, and with this area being so Republican, a Democratic win here in northern Alabama would be a pretty stunning result.  The current party composition of the Alabama House of Representatives is 70 Republicans, 33 Democrats, and 2 open seats.

Georgia

In Georgia State House District #58 in Atlanta, a pair of Democrats meet in a runoff to replace former State Rep. Simone Bell (D).  Political newcomer Park Cannon finished just 22 votes shy of winning the special election for this seat outright four weeks ago; she faces former State Rep. Ralph Long today.  Voter turnout in January’s special election was abysmal, with just 838 ballots cast, or less than 3% of the district’s total number of registered voters.  Since so few voters are likely to turn out in the runoff, this race is very unpredictable, but campaign finance reports show that Ms. Cannon has raised and spent about $20,000 since January’s voting, while Mr. Long has yet to file any campaign finance reports at all.  That suggests that Ms. Cannon is running the more vigorous campaign, and I expect her to prevail.

Wisconsin

Finally, Wisconsin holds their Spring Primary today, featuring any local or judicial offices which had more than two candidates file to run.  The two top vote-getters in each race will then advance to the Spring Election on April 5th.  As was noted last month here, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett faces three challengers, including two incumbent Council members, but Mr. Barrett is still expected to win today’s voting easily, having far out-raised any of his opponents.

Also of interest is the statewide contest for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Judge Rebecca Bradley is the incumbent, having been appointed by Gov. Scott Walker (R) last fall to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Justice N. Patrick Crooks.  Gov. Walker has appointed Justice Bradley three times in just over three years: to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court (2013), the Wisconsin Court of Appeals (2015) and the Wisconsin Supreme Court (2015).  However, this is her first appearance on a statewide ballot.  She enjoys strong support among conservatives, and will likely advance to the Spring Election against Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge Joanne Kloppenburg, who narrowly lost a challenge to incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Prosser in 2011.   Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Joe Donald is the third candidate in today’s field.

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