Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Special Elections

Look at the following list and see if you can guess what all of these lawmakers have in common.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ-4)
Rep. John Boozman (R-AR-3)
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA-5)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-9)
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA-17)
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA-23)
Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA-33)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA-37)
Rep. Joe Baca (R-CA-43)
Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA-45)
Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50)*
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT-4)
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL-1)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-18)
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10)
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2)
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL-12)
Rep. Ron Lewis (R-KY-2)
Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY-6)
Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA-4)
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5)
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7)
Rep. John Olver (D-MA-1)
Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA-5)
Rep. Steven Lynch (D-MA-9)
Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI-3)
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-15)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2)
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS-4)
Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1)
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY-5)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY-6)
Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY-13)
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY-16)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-1)
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH-2)
Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK-1)
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK-3)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3)
Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA-1)
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA-9)
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA-12)
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC-2)
Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX-3)
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX-19)
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA-4)
Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI-6)
Rep. David Obey (D-WI-7)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)

Figured it out, yet?

Each of these members was originally elected to Congress in a special election. Brian Bilbray is starred because his first stint in the House began in a regular election (in 1994). He made his return to the House, however, in a 2006 special election. Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-13) was left off of the list because his special election took place on Nov. 7, 2006. The three Senators on the list began their congressional careers in special House elections.

If you didn't know it, two new members of Congress will be elected next Tuesday to replace deceased Reps. Paul Gillmor (OH-5) and Jo Ann Davis (VA-1). Both districts are pretty Republican, but Democrats have an outside chance in each race. A win in either district would be a huge blow to Republican fund-raising and recruiting efforts for next fall.

There are two more special elections on tap for the spring. Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) recently announced a Feb. 5 primary and March 8 general election for Dennis Hastert's 14th district seat. Bobby Jindal will presumably set the schedule for his the special election for his own seat (LA-1), as he is stepping down to become Louisiana's governor (and scary potential Republican Prez candidate for 2012 or 2016).

Reflecting on the number of special elections we've seen this year (Jindal's district will hold the seventh special election of the cycle), I was curious how many sitting members of Congress were originally elected in special elections.

So, you don't have to count, the list above includes 51 Representatives and 3 Senators. When the Illinois 14th race is finished (next March), there will be a total of 55 "specially elected" members in the House. That amounts to roughly 1/8 of the House membership.

Analogously, five members of the Senate began their service as appointed members. They are:

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)

Sens. Akaka and Menendez were appointed from the House, so their appointments did not begin their congressional service. Haley Barbour is set to add a sixth name to the list soon. I won't be shocked if Bobby Jindal gets to add a seventh (replacing David Vitter) as soon as he takes office and frees Vitter to resign for a Republican successor.

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