The Next U.S. Elections Are Happening Sooner Than You Might Think
Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks have triggered a busy spring of elections that in some cases may provide an early gauge of the president’s popularity.
Special elections are set in the Republican-friendly districts vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
On the Democratic side, Xavier Becerra left the House in January to become California’s attorney general.
Plus another House member is among the names in the mix for NASA administrator, so there could be as many six special House elections this spring.
April 4: California’s 34th District
The 23-candidate field in the first-round, single-ballot April 4 election includes 19 Democrats and just one Republican, underscoring the overwhelming Democratic orientation of Becerra’s Hispanic-majority district in Los Angeles. Trump won just one out of every nine votes in the district in the 2016 election, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
A majority of votes is needed for outright victory in the April contest; otherwise a June 6 runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation.
The Democratic candidates include Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who won endorsements from the state party apparatus and the political arm of Planned Parenthood, and Wendy Carrillo, a former undocumented immigrant who spoke at the anti-Trump Women’s March on Washington last month.
April 11: Kansas’s 4th District
An April 11 election will determine Pompeo’s successor in a Wichita-area district where Trump won 60 percent of the vote. Republican state Treasurer Ron Estes begins as the early favorite against Democrat James Thompson, a civil-rights lawyer.
The Wichita area will have its third different House member in fewer than seven years. Republican Todd Tiahrt left in 2010 to run unsuccessfully for the Senate and was succeeded by Pompeo, who resigned after six years of service.
April 18: Georgia’s 6th District
Price’s suburban Atlanta district probably is the most politically competitive of any holding special elections. It backed Trump by fewer than 2 percentage points in the 2016 election, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, though the district’s well-educated and upper-income electorate has backed more conventional Republicans by much bigger margins.
“Of all the House special elections slated for the spring, this has the most potential to be competitive and attract national attention,” political analyst David Wasserman wrote Feb. 17 in the Cook Political Report. He rated the race as “likely Republican.”
Eighteen candidates, including 11 Republicans and five Democrats, qualified for the first-round, single-ballot election on April 18. A majority of votes is needed to win; given the size of the candidate field, a runoff on June 20 surely will be needed to determine Price’s successor.
Republican candidates include former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, state senator Judson Hill and Tea Party activist Amy Kremer. The leading Democratic candidate probably is Jon Ossoff, a former congressional aide whose backers include Representative John Lewis.
May 25: Montana’s At-Large District
Democratic and Republican officials will choose the special-election nominees for the statewide congressional district Zinke vacated and Trump carried by 21 percentage points.
Republican Greg Gianforte, a software company founder who lost a 2016 bid to unseat Democratic Governor Steve Bullock, filed candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission last month. State Representative Amanda Curtis, who lost a Senate bid in 2014, is among the Democrats who have expressed interest in the seat.
June 20: South Carolina’s 5th District
Mulvaney probably will be succeeded by a Republican in a north-central district where Trump won 57 percent of the vote. The candidate qualifying period runs from March 3-13, with party primaries on May 2, potential runoffs on May 16, and the special election on June 20.
Announced Republican candidates include Ralph Norman, who resigned from the state House last month to focus fully on the special election; Chad Connelly, a former state party chairman; and state Representative Tommy Pope, who prosecuted Susan Smith for the 1994 drowning deaths of her children.
TBD: Oklahoma’s 1st District
If Trump picks Representative Jim Bridenstine to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a special election would be held in his Republican-leaning district in and around Tulsa.