The special election in Georgia's 6th congressional district will be the most expensive House race in U.S. history. Meanwhile, a new poll finds a very competitive battle for the June 20th runoff.
Nearly $30 million has been spent on television ads for the battle between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. That, in and of itself, breaks the previous record for money spent on a House race*. However, the record is shattered when adding in the millions more being spent on mailers, radio, etc. So much money is coming into this race that the Atlanta NBC station has added an additional news broadcast to enable them to run all the ads that have been purchased.
A new poll from Landmark Communications gives Handel 49.1% to Ossoff's 46.5%, with slightly under 5% undecided. This result is well within the poll's 4% margin of error. The Republican vote, split across multiple candidates in the April 18th special election, has consolidated behind Handel. While she has a small lead, the poll found that "nearly 6 in 10 independents – a crucial voting bloc in Georgia that typically breaks for the GOP – backs Ossoff’s campaign." The survey included 611 likely voters.
* For those interested, $29.6 million was spent (in total) in the 2012 race between first-term Republican Alan West and Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida's 18th congressional district. Murphy prevailed by less than 1%.
From the New York Times: "The House on Thursday narrowly approved a bill to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, as Republicans recovered from their earlier failures and moved a step closer to delivering their promise to reshape American health care without mandated insurance coverage.
The vote, 217-213, on President Trump’s 105th day in office, keeps alive the Republican dream to unwind the signature legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama. The House measure faces profound uncertainty in the Senate, where the legislation’s steep spending cuts will almost certainly be moderated. Any legislation that can get through the Senate will again have to clear the House and its conservative majority."
The measure needed 216 votes to pass (not 218, as there are 4 vacant seats), and it achieved that via a straight party-line vote. Of the 193 'no' votes, 20 were from Republicans.
Curious how your (or any) Representative voted? Today, we introduce a new feature that shows the House Roll Call for a specific bill alongside the current 2018 ratings for each race. You can request the vote for your specific Rep (location services must be enabled), see the votes for competitive 2018 races and/or look at how the entire Member delegation of any state visited (by clicking or tapping that state on the map). Here is that map for the American Health Care Act of 2017.
Related Content: 2018 House Interactive Map
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) is retiring at the end of the current term, according to the Miami Herald. The Republican is in her fifteenth term, making her the longest-standing member of Florida's congressional delegation. (Democrat Alcee Hastings (FL-20) is next; he is in his 13th term.
The retirement makes the seat much more likely to flip Democratic in the 2018 midterm elections. Per the Herald: "Ros-Lehtinen, 64, was elected last November to Florida’s redrawn 27th district, a stretch of Southeast Miami-Dade County that leans so Democratic that Hillary Clinton won it over Donald Trump by 20 percentage points. It was Clinton's biggest margin of any Republican-held seat in the country."
Sabato's Crystal Ball has moved the race from likely Republican to leans Democratic.
RATINGS CHANGE: FL-27 goes from Likely R all the way to Leans D now that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) is retiring— Kyle Kondik (@kkondik) April 30, 2017
We have updated our 2018 House Interactive Map accordingly. Note that we've also added a new tab on the page to allow for a look at the current Congress. We are working on additional enhancements to make the map easier to use, as control of the House is likely to be where the action is in 2018.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee has announced he will not seek a 6th term in the 2018 midterm elections. The congressman made the announcement on his Facebook page, stating "Since late 2003 I have been fully engaged with politics as a campaign manager, a chief of staff, a candidate and as a Member of Congress. I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career. Many of you have heard me advocate, “Get in, serve, and get out.” After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018."
Chaffetz went on to say that he has no ulterior motives here. However, in his Oversight role, he is now in the uncomfortable position of leading possible investigations against a Republican president. Additionally, Chaffetz had already gotten a primary challenge for 2018. Looking beyond that, he may have been up against a Democratic opponent in the general election that has significantly outpaced him in fundraising thus far in 2017. Some consideration might also have been given to the fact that Republican control over the House may be in jeopardy next year.
Chaffetz is the 9th House member (5th Republican) to pass on a reelection campaign.
From the New York Times: "Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, and Karen Handel, a Republican, advanced to a June 20 runoff in the special election for the [Georgia 6th Congressional District] U.S. House seat vacated by Tom Price, the new health and human services secretary." Ossoff received 48% of the vote, just short of the 50% threshold to avoid the runoff. Handel came in 2nd, her 20% tally outpacing a large group of Republicans on the nonpartisan primary ballot.
The election was seen as an early referendum on Donald Trump's presidency, thus drawing national attention. Democrats pinned their hopes on Ossoff, a filmmaker and former congressional staff member. He raised over $8 million, far above anyone else in the race. In the end, all that money and energy helped Ossoff slightly outperform Hillary Clinton in each of the three counties making up the district (see Vote by County in above graphic). However, it was not enough to avoid the June runoff.
Republican vote was split primarily between four candidates. Handel, the former Georgia Secretary of State, bested businessman Bob Gray and two former State Senators to achieve the 2nd spot in the runoff. Total vote across all eleven Republicans in the field was 51%, vs. 49% for the five Democrats.
Alabama has moved up the date for its U.S. Senate special election to December 12, 2017, following a primary on August 15th, Politico reports. The special election was previously scheduled for November 6, 2018, to coincide with the midterm general elections. The winner of the special election will serve out the six-year term of this seat, next up for election in 2020.
The Senate seat became open when Jeff Sessions resigned after being confirmed as U.S. Attorney General in February. Then governor Robert Bentley, appointed Luther Strange to the seat. Bentley subsequently resigned on April 10th to avoid felony charges and likely impeachment. The Lt. Governor at the time, Kay Ivey, took over for Bentley that day. She pursued the date change after discussions with state officials.
As reported back in January, Bentley set the special election for 2018 to - he said - avoid the significant cost of an off-cycle election. However, Strange, in his former capacity as the state's Attorney General, was in charge of investigating the governor. Some believed Strange's appointment to the Senate was a way to derail the investigation, and/or perhaps a 'thanks' for dragging it out for so long.
As a practical matter, these machinations will likely have little effect on Senate control. While Strange is likely to get some primary competition, the Senate seat in this deep red state is expected to remain in Republican hands regardless of who the party's nominee is.
Democrat Jon Ossoff is polling at 45% in a poll released late Friday for the Georgia's 6th congressional district special election. This is slightly better than recent polling having him in the low 40s, but he remains several points shy of the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff.
The Republican vote is split among several candidates. However, this latest poll has former Ga. Secretary of State Karen Handel pulling away from her main competition. Handel comes in at 17%, while Bob Gray, Dan Moody and Judson Hill are congregated between 8-9%.
If these results play out in Tuesday's election, Ossoff and Handel will meet in a top-two runoff on June 20th.
Today was the final date for early voting. 18 candidates from all parties will participate on a single ballot in the April 18th election. The seat became vacant when the former incumbent, Tom Price, was confirmed as Secretary of Health & Human Services earlier this year.
Republican Ron Estes is the projected winner of the special election in Kansas' 4th congressional district, edging Democratic nominee James Thompson in a much closer than expected race. With 94% of the vote in, Estes leads by just 5.8%.
Former Rep. Mike Pompeo (now CIA Director) won this seat by 32 points last November, while Donald Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 27 points here.
Voters in Kansas' 4th congressional district head to the polls today in the first congressional election of the Trump era. The seat became vacant earlier this year when Mike Pompeo resigned to take over the CIA. The district covers the south-central part of the state, including Wichita. Polls are open until 7PM Central Time (8PM Eastern).
Pompeo won reelection by about 32% last November, while Trump won by 27% within the district. As the article linked to in the first paragraph notes "It’s a district that would, under normal circumstances, be considered a lock for the Republican candidate. But of course, these are not normal times, and resources are flooding into the district from left and right."
While special elections are always tricky to predict, everything would have to go right (from the Democratic perspective) for this seat to flip. The most likely outcome is a Republican win, albeit with a smaller margin than in the 2016 elections. How small that margin is will likely form the basis for how each party spins the result once it is known. However, Republicans are taking no chances. Even the president is getting involved, recording a robocall Monday and sending out a tweet Tuesday morning:
Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas. A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform).— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
The race pits the State Treasurer, Republican Ron Estes against Democrat James Thompson, a civil rights attorney. Also on the ballot is Libertarian Chris Rockhold.
Alabama governor Robert Bentley resigned on Monday and agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor campaign violations. As part of the plea deal, the state will not pursue other, more serious charges against Bentley. This also puts to an end impeachment proceedings which had begun against the governor. The troubles for Bentley stem from an extramarital affair with a staffer and an alleged law enforcement cover-up.
Lt. Governor Kay Ivey will serve out the remainder of Bentley's term. The seat is up for election in 2018, one of 36 gubernatorial races that year.
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