Welcome to Ballotpedia’s week of November election previews

Welcome to the Monday, October 25, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

We are entering the final stretch of the 2021 election cycle. This is the final full week ahead of the Nov. 2 general elections so we will be using the Brew to bring you previews of battleground races at all levels of government. Here’s your schedule for the week:

  • Monday: Federal
  • Tuesday: State
  • Wednesday: School boards
  • Thursday: Cities
  • Friday: Ballot measures

Today we are diving into our federal battleground races for Congress. Since this is an odd-year election, there isn’t much electoral activity at this level, but we have covered a handful of special congressional elections. Read on for a look at those races as well as what’s in store for 2022.

Florida’s 20th Congressional District, Democratic primary

Eleven candidates are running in the special Democratic primary for Florida’s 20th Congressional District on Nov. 2. The special general election will be held on Jan. 11, 2022, to fill the vacancy left by Alcee Hastings (D), who died on April 6, 2021. 

Hastings had been in office since 1993 and, since 2012, had won re-election every two years in the 20th District by an average of 64.3 percentage points. He ran unopposed in 2018. This has led race forecasters like Inside Elections to rate the special election as Solid Democratic. Thus, the primary is very likely to decide the next representative of this district.

Of the 11 candidates in the Democratic primary, five currently hold elected office: state Rep. Bobby DuBose, state Rep. Omari Hardy, Broward County Commissioners Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief, and state Sen. Perry Thurston. A sixth candidate, Priscilla Taylor, previously held office as a Palm Beach County Commissioner.

The fundraising leader in the race, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, has not held elected office, but ran against Hastings in the 2020 and 2018 Democratic primaries, receiving between 26 and 31% of the vote. As of June 30, Cherfilus-McCormick had raised $2.4 million and spent $367,664, leaving her with $2.1 million on hand. Holness, the next-closest fundraiser, had raised $305,719 and had $268,102 on hand.

All five elected officials received endorsements from state legislators. DuBose also had an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.). The Florida branch of the Service Employees International Union endorsed Holness and the Florida AFL-CIO backed Thurston. U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), from the neighboring 21st District, endorsed Sharief. The group Brand New Congress endorsed Cherfilus-McCormick.

In addition to the above candidates, Elvin Dowling, Phil Jackson, Emmanuel Morel, and Imran Siddiqui are also running in the Democratic primary. Two candidates—Jason Mariner and Greg Musselwhite—are running in the Republican primary also being held on Nov. 2.

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Ohio’s 11th and 15th Congressional Districts

Voters in Ohio’s 11th and 15th Congressional Districts will also cast ballots in general special elections on Nov. 2. In the 11th District, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown (D) faces Laverne Gore (R) to fill a vacancy left when Rep. Marcia Fudge (D) resigned to become the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In the 15th District, former president of the Ohio Coal Association, Mike Carey (R), faces Allison Russo (D) to fill a vacancy left when Rep. Steve Stivers (R) resigned to become President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. 

The 11th and 15th Districts are considered solidly Democratic and Republican, respectively, meaning the winners of those specific primaries are considered to be the likely winners on Nov. 2. Here’s a quick look at our coverage of those Aug. 3 primaries.

In the 11th District, rated Strong Democratic, Ballotpedia identified the Aug. 3 Democratic primary as a battleground election. Thirteen candidates filed for the primary, including Brown and former state Sen. Nina Turner. The Hill’s Julia Manchester described the primary as “a proxy battle for the Democratic Party establishment and national progressives,” referring to endorsements for Brown and Turner from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), respectively. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Seth Richardson added that local endorsements did not necessarily break down along the same dividing lines as national endorsements. Brown won the primary with 50.4% of the vote.

In the 15th District, rated Strong Republican, Ballotpedia tracked the Aug. 3 Republican primary as a battleground election. Eleven candidates filed for the primary including Carey and state Rep. Jeff LaRe. Former U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and outgoing officeholder Stivers issued dueling endorsements in the race with Trump supporting Carey and Stivers backing LaRe. Carey won the primary with 37.0% of the vote. He also completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, in which he said that he would “Bring back America First policies and rebuild the American economy…again”.

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An overview of special congressional elections in 2021

In addition to the three special elections described above, four Congressional special elections have already taken place this year. If there are no additional special elections during the 117th Congress, it would tie the 114th Congress for the lowest number of special congressional elections in recent years.

Here’s a look at those races that have already been decided:

As of Oct. 2021, 54 special congressional elections were held during the 113th through 117th Congresses (2013-2022). During that time, special elections were called for 18 seats vacated by Democrats and 36 vacated by Republicans.

The graphic below shows some historical information about party changes and special congressional elections. Figures for 2021 show only those special elections that have already been decided.

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A look ahead: U.S. congressional elections, 2022

We are less than two months away from the first candidate filing deadlines in the 2022 election cycle. All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election. Democrats currently hold a majority in the chamber with 220 seats to Republicans’ 212.

In the U.S. Senate, 34 of the chamber’s 100 seats are up for election. Democrats currently control the chamber with 48 seats alongside two independents. Republicans hold the remaining 50 seats. Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, serves as a tie-breaking vote. Of the 34 seats up for election, 14 are held by Democrats and 20 by Republicans.

We also know that at least 27 seats—22 in the House and five in the Senate—will be won by newcomers.

In the House, 13 Democratic incumbents and nine Republicans have announced that they will not be seeking re-election in 2022. Half of those—eight Democrats and three Republicans—appear to be retiring. The other half—five Democrats and six Republicans—are running for some other office. The 22 announced retirements place us lower than the number announced at this time in the 2020 (25) and 2018 (24) election cycles.

Five members of the Senate, all Republicans, have also announced their retirements. This is already higher than the number of Senators who announced retirements in the 2020 (4) and 2018 (3) election cycles.

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