Preview of the Montana Nominating Conventions for State Special Election

I’m in Helena, where I will be covering the Montana Democratic Party’s nominating convention tomorrow to pick a candidate to run for the state’s at-large congressional seat, which was vacated when Ryan Zinke was confirmed as Secretary of the Interior. As was the case at the DNC winter meeting, I will be blogging and posting updates from the convention.

On a related note: Matt Volz of the Associated Press has three stories (here, here and here) previewing the state of the race as both major parties and the Libertarian Party prepare to pick their nominees (the Montana GOP’s nominating convention is on Monday). The general election is scheduled for May 25.

Democrats Win Two Out of Three Connecticut Special Elections

While most journalists and political junkies had their eyes on Washington for President Trump’s address to Congress, Democrats were having a pretty good night in Connecticut, winning two out of three legislative special elections held that day:

In three special elections Tuesday night, Connecticut voters did nothing to shift the balance of power in the evenly split Senate or closely divided House, despite furious efforts to make one race a referendum on President Trump and another on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Democrat Dorinda Borer easily defeated Republican Edward R. Granfield in the 115th House District of West Haven to succeed Stephen D. Dargan, a Democrat who resigned to accept a post on the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Borer’s victory only briefly restored Democrats to the 79-72 House majority they won on Nov. 8, since Rep. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, and Rep. Eric Berthel, R-Watertown, now will resign after winning Senate seats in the 2nd District of greater Hartford and 32nd District outside Waterbury.

With the ability of Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman to break tie votes in the 18-18 Senate, Connecticut remains one of just a half-dozen states with a Democratic governor and state legislature.

In the 32nd Senate District, Berthel won comfortably over Democrat Greg Cava of Roxbury in a race that Democratic activists worked with some success to nationalize as a referendum on Trump: In the most Republican Senate district in the state, Cava lost by 10 percentage points, which Democrats say is their best showing there in decades.

After losing three Senate seats and eight House seats in November, despite Hillary Clinton’s carrying the state over Trump, Democrats were ready to celebrate the results of the special elections Tuesday as harbingers of better things to come in 2018.

These are the latest in a series of state legislative victories for Democrats since last November’s elections, having won (or defended) seats in special elections in Iowa, Virginia and Delaware. Reaction from Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Jessica Post:

“Congratulations to Rep.-elect Borer and Sen.-elect McCrory on their successes in today’s elections,” said Post. “These talented candidates with strong commitments to public service have brought the list of Democratic electoral victories to five in the scant six weeks Trump has been in the White House. DLCC is thrilled by these latest victories, which are just the latest expression of Democrats’ level of energy and engagement as voters reject Trump’s GOP and fight Republicans’ extreme and bigoted agenda on all fronts.”

2017 Special Election Calendar

Having spoken to and emailed several party officials, here is what the special elections schedule looks like over the next three months to fill the five vacant seats in the House of Representatives:

March 5-6 – Party nominating conventions for Democratic and Republican candidates for Montana AL CD.
April 4 – California 34th CD primary election
April 11 – Kansas 4th CD general election: Ron Estes (R) v. Jim Thompson (D)
April 18 – Georgia 6th CD general election
May 2 – South Carolina 5th CD primary
May 16 – South Carolina 5th CD primary runoff election (if necessary)
May 20 – Montana AL CD general election: Greg Gianforte (R) v. Rob Quist (D)
June 6 – California 34th CD general election (the top two candidates from primary, if no candidate gets 50 percent of the votes +1 on April 4)
June 20 – Georgia 6th CD runoff election (only if no candidate gets 50 percent of the votes +1 on April 18)
June 20 – South Carolina 5th CD general election

Delaware Senate Race Metrics

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee sent out these figures in the aftermath of its victory in the Delaware Senate District 10 race.

  • Donors from all 50 states contributed to the Stephanie Hansen campaign.
  • More than 1,000 volunteers knocked on nearly 90,000 doors and made more than 60,000 phone calls.
  • Hansen, her staff, and her volunteers had more than 21,000 separate conversations with voters.
  • Hansen won 1,000 more votes on a Saturday special election in an off-year than the previous incumbent, Bethany Hall-Long, received in 2014. Hall-Long resigned the seat following her election as lieutenant governor.
  • Legislative Majority PAC – the DLCC’s affiliated super PAC and independent expenditure operation – helped produce more than $500,000 in ads and mail.

Candidates Named for Kansas Special Election

After Mike Pompeo’s resignation from Congress to take the job of CIA director, there will be a special election to fill his former seat, which represents Kansas’s 4th congressional district. The Kansas Democratic Party held a convention today in the 4th CD to pick their nominee for the race. narrowing down a field of five candidates before finally choosing civil rights attorney James Thompson after two rounds of voting

Republicans chose state treasurer Ron Estes as their candidate. The election will take place on April 11.  According to the Wichita Eagle, Democrats will try to tie Estes to President Donald Trump and Kansas governor Sam Brownback, while Republicans will try to tie Thompson to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. According to the Cook Political Report, the 4th CD has a R +14 Partisan Voter Index. Presidnet Trump won Kansas 56-35 in the 2016 election.