Voters to decide runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District

The Federal Tap

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Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the runoff election in the special election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District and the primaries for the special election for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday and Tuesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Wednesday, Biden participated in a CNN town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

On Thursday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware. 

Federal Judiciary

  • 82 federal judicial vacancies
  • 22 pending nominations
  • 31 future federal judicial vacancies

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 51%, congressional approval at 23%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 51% approval and 43% disapproval as of July 22. At this time last month, his approval rating was at 52%.

The highest approval rating Biden has received during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. This week’s approval rating matches his lowest of 51% on March 29.

Congressional approval is at 23% and disapproval is at 56%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 19%.

The highest approval rating the 117th Congress has received is the 36% received last week (July 15). The lowest approval rating it has received is 19%, last seen on June 23.

At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 41% and congressional approval was at 19%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.

Voters to decide runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27

Texas’ 6th Congressional District will hold a special election runoff on July 27. Jake Ellzey (R) and Susan Wright (R) are running to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Ronald Wright (R), who died from COVID-19 related complications on Feb. 7. The district is located in the northeastern portion of the state and includes Ellis and Navarro counties and an area of Tarrant County.

Susan Wright is Ronald Wright’s widow. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed her on April 26. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Ellzey.

Since both runoff candidates are Republicans, the district will not change party hands as a result of the election. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1. Wright received 19.2% of the vote, while Ellzey received 13.8% of the vote.

Three special elections to the 117th Congress have taken place so far in 2021. The election in Texas’ 6th is one of four more currently scheduled.

New Jersey chief justice asks political parties to submit consensus candidate for congressional redistricting commission

On July 20, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked Democrats and Republicans to reconvene and select a consensus candidate as the 13th member of the state’s congressional redistricting commission

According to state law, 12 of the 13 commissioners are appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the legislature and the chairs of the state’s two major political parties. These 12 commissioners then appoint the last commission member. If they cannot agree on an appointment, the commissioners must submit two names to the state supreme court and the court must then appoint the final commissioner. 

According to The New Jersey Globe, “This is the first time the two parties haven’t agreed on a thirteenth member for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court option wasn’t involved in 1991, 2001 and 2011.” Chief Justice Rabner gave the commissioners until July 30 to respond with a consensus candidate. If they do not, the state supreme court will pick a tie-breaker candidate by Aug. 10.

Primaries for the special election to Ohio’s 15th Congressional District on Aug. 3

Ohio’s primary on Aug. 3 is less than two weeks away, and in the state’s 15th Congressional District, four Republican candidates are leading media attention and endorsements: Mike Carey, Ruth Edmonds, Jeff LaRe, and Bob Peterson

The Republican nominee will face the winner of the Democratic primary in a special election on Nov. 2, 2021. Greg Betts and Allison Russo are running in the Democratic primary.

The special election will fill the vacancy left by Steve Stivers (R), who resigned to become the president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, effective May 16, 2021. Stivers had held the district since 2011 and won his last re-election in 2020 with a 26.8 point margin-of-victory against Joel Newby (D).

Carey, past president and chairman of the Ohio Coal Association and U.S. Army National Guard veteran, has said he will “bring back America First policies and rebuild the American economy.” He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump (R).

Endorsed by the Right Women PAC, Edmonds is an ordained minister and former president of the Ohio NAACP. She has said she is “Committed to Life [and] to ending the hateful rhetoric around race.”

Private security executive and member of the Ohio state legislature, LaRe has said his “top priority is keeping our communities and our families safe.” He was endorsed by the previous officeholder, Steve Stivers.

Peterson was endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life PAC. A farmer and member of the Ohio state legislature, he has said he is a “tireless advocate for faith, family and freedom.” 

The seven other candidates also running in the primary are: John Adams, Eric M. Clark, Thad Cooperridder, Ron Hood, Tom Hwang, Stephanie Kunze, and Omar Tarazi.

As of July 2021, the Ohio House delegation consisted of three Democrats and 11 Republicans, with two seats up for special election this year. The overall partisan composition of the U.S. House is 220 Democrats and 211 Republicans. The general election is rated as Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Campaign finance data has not yet been released on the race, but on July 14, Politico cited advertising data to report that Rep. Stivers had “spent nearly $300,000 in remaining funds from his campaign account” on LaRe’s campaign, while the Protect Freedom PAC had reserved $216,000 in advertising time for Hood.

To learn more about the candidates’ platforms or to find out what other races are on your ballot, check out Ballotpedia’s Sample Ballot Lookup tool.

Vice President Harris casts eighth tie-breaking vote in Senate

Vice President Kamala Harris (D) cast her eighth tie-breaking vote in the Senate on July 21 to confirm Jennifer Ann Abruzzo as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. The Senate voted 50-50 along party lines.

Harris previously cast tie-breaking votes related to the confirmation processes of Kiran Ahuja for director of the Office of Personnel Management and Colin Kahl for under secretary of defense for policy.

In the past four decades, vice presidents have cast a total of 40 tie-breaking votes. Vice President Mike Pence (R) cast the most during this time period with 13 tie-breaking votes.

John Adams cast the first tie-breaking vote on July 18, 1789. In total, there have been 276 tie-breaking votes from 37 vice presidents. Twelve vice presidents, including Joe Biden (D) and Dan Quayle (R), never cast a tie-breaking vote during their time in office.