Wednesday, March 26, 2008

House Overview, Pt. 1

Here I sit in Chile, and yet every now and again my compulsion to follow every detail of the 2008 House campaigns reasserts itself and I spend a couple of hours online reading about AL-2 and OR-5, etc. Since I've been home all day with a cold, I figure now is as good a time as any to ignore my homework and my duties to the other blog and to start a comprehensive series on how the House races are going. In part one, I intend to cover the remaining special elections of the cycle. Part II will focus on some of the 33 open seats.

Special Elections

I see no reason to reinvent the wheel, so here's CQ's take on each of these races, with my comments after each race summary:

California’s 12th District (April 8 first-round vote, possible June 3 runoff)

This safely Democratic district, which includes a part of San Francisco and a part of San Mateo County south of the city, was long represented by Democrat Tom Lantos. The 14th-term incumbent died of cancer on Feb. 11, six weeks after he said he would not seek re-election this year because of his health.

The leading candidate to succeed Lantos is Democratic state Sen. Jackie Speier, a well-known veteran of local politics. She will be joined by four lesser-known candidates — one Democrat, two Republicans and one Green Party contender — in the April 8 election in which all candidates, regardless of party, will run on a single ballot.

A candidate would be regarded as the outright winner should she or he receive a majority of all votes cast in the April 8 contest. Should that not occur, the top vote-getters from each party would compete in a second vote held on June 3 to determine Lantos’ successor.

Prohibitive Favorite: Former State Senator Jackie Speier (D)

Louisiana’s 1st District (March 8 first-round primary; April 5 Republican primary runoff; May 3 general election)

Republicans Steve Scalise, a state senator, and Tim Burns, a state representative, topped the field in the four-candidate Republican primary on March 8, but neither received the necessary majority vote. As a result, they are competing in a runoff election that will be held on April 5.

The winner will be heavily favored in a May 3 general election against Gilda Reed, a psychologist who easily won outright in the less well-attended Democratic primary, also held March 8. The voters in the 1st District, which takes in part of New Orleans and areas on the north and south shores of Lake Pontchartrain, have strong conservative tendencies that give the Republican Party a big edge. The 1st District seat was vacated in January by Republican Bobby Jindal when he was sworn in as governor, an office he won last October.

Prohibitive Favorite: State Senator Steve Scalise (R)

Louisiana’s 6th District (March 8 first-round primary; April 5primary runoff for both major parties; May 3 general election)

This Baton Rouge-based district, which 11-term Republican Rep. Richard H. Baker vacated in February to accept a private-sector position, is the most politically competitive of the quartet listed here. Both parties will need runoffs on April 5 to determine their nominees for the May 3 general election.

The Democratic candidates are state Reps. Don Cazayoux and Michael Jackson, who were the top vote-getters in a five-candidate primary on March 8. The Republican runoff pits former state Rep. Woody Jenkins, whose 49.9 percent in the four-candidate Republican primary left him fewer than 100 votes shy of avoiding a runoff, and Laurinda Calongne, a consulting company owner who finished second with 25 percent.

Jenkins is the best-known of these candidates outside their home turf, owing to his narrow loss to Democrat Mary L. Landrieu in Louisiana’s 1996 race for the U.S. Senate. Jenkins protested his loss, claiming voting irregularities, but the Senate determined there were insufficient grounds to overturn the result.

Louisiana’s 6th is a conservative-leaning district where Jindal won 56 percent of the vote in the governor’s election last October. But it has an ample black population, and the partisan disparity in the March 8 primary — about 47,600 voters participated in the Democratic contest and 29,900 voters cast a ballot in the Republican primary — could be a sign that the Democrats could score an upset in this district.

This is an R+7 district. Tough, but still within the realm of the possible in a special election setting. Don Cazayoux (the surnames are the best part of Louisiana politics) filed on 3/16 with more total raised ($565,325 to $291,351) and more CoH ($110,770 to only $18,721) than Woody Jenkins, who for all of his name ID, is a frequent loser. Cook calls the race a tossup, while CQ gives it a slight GOP lean. A win would be seen as an upset, and together with IL-14, would start to build a narrative that we are winning in some fairly red territory.

Mississippi’s 1st District (April 22 first-round vote, possible May 13 runoff)

Republican Roger Wicker resigned as this strongly Republican district’s representative last New Year’s Eve to accept an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat from which Republican Trent Lott had resigned two weeks earlier for personal reasons.

Four Republicans, two Democrats and one Green Party are running in a single-ballot first-round election on April 22. If no candidate wins a majority of all votes, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, will compete in a May 13 runoff.

Because of complicated timing, two of the candidates will receive a boost for the special election. That is because the regularly scheduled primary was held on Tuesday, and it produced runoff elections in both parties that will be held April 1 — three weeks before the special election. Glenn L. McCullough Jr., a former mayor of Tupelo, and Greg Davis, the mayor of Southaven, will compete in the Republican runoff, while Travis W. Childers, a county chancery clerk, and Steve Holland, a state representative, will vie in the Democratic runoff.

The Republicans are expected to retain control — in the spring special election and in the November general election — of a northern Mississippi district in which President Bush took 62 percent of the vote in 2004.

A win here is obviously very unlikely (it's an R+10). We'll see in a few weeks who the final candidates are, and if there's even a Democrat left in the race.


clark said...

Jackie Speier was shot 5 times in the Jonestown cult massacre in Guyana and lied for 22 hours waiting for help on the airport tarmac... wow

Alton Brooks Parker said...

Goddamn, I didn't know that. That's partly why I'm posting links to their websites. I'm hoping that people with browse through some of them and find stuff like that. Damn.