Reviewing the week: Jake Ellzey wins runoff in Texas’ 6th Congressional District

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the results of this week’s all-Republican runoff in Texas’ 6th Congressional District and previews primaries in two congressional special elections in Ohio on Aug. 3. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap:

Jake Ellzey wins runoff in special election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District

Jake Ellzey (R) defeated Susan Wright (R) in a special runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District. With 98% of precincts reporting, Ellzey received 53% of the vote and Wright received 47% of the vote. Susan Wright is Ronald Wright’s widow. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1 where Wright received 19.2% of the vote while Ellzey received 13.8%.

Ellzey will fill the vacancy left when the previous incumbent, Ronald Wright (R), 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.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Ellzey and former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Wright. Since both runoff candidates were Republicans, the seat did not change party hands as a result of the election. 

Seven special elections have been called during the 117th Congress. Four of those have already taken place and none have resulted in a party change. From the 113th Congress to the 116th Congress, 50 special elections were held.

Thirteen Democrats, two Republicans face off in primaries in Ohio’s 11th District

Ohio’s 11th Congressional District will hold primaries on Aug. 3 to determine who advances to the Nov. 2 special election. Former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D)resigned when she became Housing and Urban Development secretary in March. Early voting began July 7 and continues through Aug. 2. 

The Hill‘s Julia Manchester wrote that the Democratic primary “has become a proxy battle for the Democratic Party establishment and national progressives,” referring to endorsements for candidates Shontel Brown and Nina Turner. Brown is on the Cuyahoga County Council. Turner is a former state senator and worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. 

Hillary Clinton, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) endorsed Brown. Sanders, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Turner. Seth Richardson of wrote that local endorsements don’t break along the same dividing lines as national endorsements. Richardson noted Turner’s endorsements from local officials who supported Biden’s presidential primary campaign, including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and Brown’s share of endorsements from labor groups.

The race has seen more than $2.5 million in satellite spending—with $1.6 million of that from Democratic Majority for Israel supporting Brown and opposing Turner and $576,000 from Democratic Action PAC supporting Turner and opposing Brown.

Laverne Gore and Felicia Ross are competing in the Republican primary. Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 general election Solid Democratic.

Eleven Republicans, two Democrats to compete for party nods in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District

In Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, voters will decide on Aug. 3 who will advance from party primaries to the special general election scheduled for Nov. 2. The special election will fill the vacancy left by Steve Stivers (R), who resigned in May to become the president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Two candidates are running for the Democratic primary, and eleven are running in the Republican primary.

The general election is rated as Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. The past six elections for this seat were won by Stivers, who averaged a 24.32 point margin-of-victory (MOV). His lowest MOV was 12.9 points in 2010, and his highest was 32.4 points in 2016. Former President Trump (R) won the District in 2020 by a 14.1 point MOV and in 2016 by 15.4 points.

Stivers (R) and former President Donald Trump (R) have endorsed different candidates in the race. Trump (R) endorsed the past president and chairman of the Ohio Coal Association and U.S. Army National Guard veteran Mike Carey (R). Stivers has endorsed businessman and state Rep. Jeff LaRe (R). Two other candidates, Ruth Edmonds (R) and Bob Peterson (R), have received notable endorsements in the race. Edmonds, an ordained minister and former president of the Columbus NAACP, was endorsed by Debbie Meadows’ Right Women PAC. Peterson, a member of the Ohio legislature, was endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life PAC. 

The Columbus Dispatch reported on July 28 that $2.56 million had been spent on television and radio ads for the race, according to ad-tracking firm Medium Buying. An additional $350,000 was spent to support Carey by the Make America Great Again PAC on July 29.

The two Democrats running are Greg Betts and Allison Russo.

Where was the president last week?

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

On Tuesday, Biden addressed the intelligence community at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Virginia. 

On Wednesday, Biden delivered remarks on U.S. manufacturing at Mack Trucks in Macungie, Pennsylvania. 

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

On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Camp David, Maryland.

Federal Judiciary

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

Senate advances infrastructure bill on procedural vote

The Senate voted to invoke cloture on the INVEST in America Act by a 67-32 vote on July 28. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who led Republican negotiations on the infrastructure deal, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were among the 17 Republicans to vote to advance the legislation.

The bipartisan agreement for the new bill, which has not yet been fully written, will allocate $550 billion for transportation, water and power infrastructure, and pollution cleanup. The original Democratic proposal had outlined $2.6 trillion in spending, including on additional sectors such as public housing and research and development.

Democrats are expected to use the budget reconciliation process to pass additional legislation on climate change, healthcare, education, and other issues, alongside the infrastructure bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she did not intend to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House without the passage of the additional legislation.

CDC recommends vaccinated people wear masks indoors in some circumstances

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued revised guidance on masks on July 27, recommending that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks while indoors in parts of the country with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission. 

The CDC classifies a county as having substantial transmission if it experiences between 50 and 99.99 new cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days or the percentage of positive tests within the last seven days is between 8 and 9.99%. The CDC classifies a county as having high transmission if it experiences over 100 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days or the percentage of positive tests taken within the last seven days is greater than 10%. CDC data shows that, as of July 26, 66.6% of counties are experiencing high or substantial levels of COVID-19 spread.

The CDC previously revised its mask guidance on April 27, saying that fully vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear masks while indoors. 

Congress is in session

The Senate is 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.

Former U.S. Senators Enzi, Levin die

Two former U.S. Senators died during the past week.

Former U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) died on July 26 after a biking accident after being hospitalized following the accident on July 25. He was first elected to the Senate in 1996 and was re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014. Enzi did not run for re-election in 2020.

Before serving in the U.S. Senate, Enzi was the mayor of Gillette, Wyoming, and had been a member of both the Wyoming House of Representatives and the Wyoming State Senate. Before entering politics, he was a small business owner and accountant.

Former U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich) died on July 29. Levin served In the U.S. Congress from 1978 to his retirement in 2014. Before being elected to the Senate, Levin served on the Detroit City Council.

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 51%, congressional approval at 16%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 51% approval and 44% disapproval as of July 29. 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. His current approval rating of 51% is the lowest he has received. He last received this rating on March 29.

Congressional approval is at 16%, and disapproval is at 57%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 25%.

The highest approval rating the 117th Congress has received is 36%, last seen on July 16. Its current approval rating of 16% is the lowest it has received.

At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 39%, and congressional approval was at 16%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.