Upcoming Special Elections May Give Clues About 2018 Campaigns

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Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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Upcoming special elections for vacant congressional seats could give hints of what to expect for the midterm campaigns in 2018.

The first special election happened Tuesday in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District for a seat vacated by Republican Mike Pompeo, now CIA Director.

The seat was won by Republican Ron Estes, state treasurer of Kansas, by just 6 percentage points—far lower than the 30 percentage points by which Pompeo beat Democrat opponents in the past. Democrats pointed out the differences between the margin of victories and claimed that Republicans have reason to worry. However, others pointed to unpopular Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as the real drag on Estes’ performance.

Next up is the April 18 jungle primary in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to fill the seat once occupied by Republican Tom Price, who is now Secretary of Health and Human Services. The was district once represented by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Georgia’s jungle primary rules require that if no individual receives at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, go to a runoff on June 20.

Following Georgia’s primary, South Carolina will hold a primary on May 2 for a special election on June 20.

South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District was previously represented by Republican Mick Mulvaney, but Mulvaney left the House to join the administration as Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  Between 2010 and 2016, Mulvaney won his seat with at least 55 percent of the vote.

The only special election intended to fill a congressional seat previously occupied by a Democrat will happen on June 6 in California. Democrat Xavier Becerra left the House in 2016 and successfully ran for California State Attorney General, leaving the 34th district open. The state’s jungle primary happened April 4 and two Democrats, Robert Lee Ahn and Jimmy Gomez, were the top vote getters. The two will run against one another in the June 6 general election.

Democrats hope to crack a special election on May 25 happening in Montana’s at-large district. Previously held by Republican Ryan Zinke, who later joined the Trump administration to be Interior Secretary, the seat will be the focus of Republican Greg Gianforte, Democrat Rob Quist, and Libertarian Mark Wick.

According to The Billings Gazette, the Gianforte campaign had previously reported its fundraising receipts at $1.6 million while Quist’s campaign has raised $903,975 through March.

Finally, Alabama will hold a June 5, 2018 primary for the special election to fill Senate the seat once held by now Justice Department Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Former Republican Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Luther Strange to Sessions’ seat after Sessions was confirmed by the upper chamber to his present position. The general election will happen on November 6, 2018.

Strange, who is expected to run in the special, has already raised $673,000 with $763,612 cash-on-hand when Federal Election Commission documents are submitted, Alabama.com reported.

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